The End of Irish History? Critical Reflections on the Celtic Tiger

The End of Irish History? Critical Reflections on the Celtic Tiger

The End of Irish History? Critical Reflections on the Celtic Tiger

The End of Irish History? Critical Reflections on the Celtic Tiger

Synopsis

Ireland appears to be in the throes of a remarkable process of social change. The purpose of this book is to systematically scrutinize the interpretations and prescriptions that inform the deceptively simple metaphor of the "Celtic Tiger." The standpoint of the book is that a more critical approach to the course of development being followed by the Republic is urgently required. The essays collected here set out to expose the fallacies that drive the fashionable rhetoric of Tigerhood. Four of these fallacies--that Ireland has cast off the chains of economic dependency, that everyone is benefiting from the economic recovery, that personal freedom and liberty are at an unprecedented level for all citizens, and that Ireland is also experiencing a period of strong cultural renaissance--are vigorously challenged.

Excerpt

During the Easter vacation of 2001, I happened to be travelling through the United States and picked up a copy of a renowned popular music magazine to pass the time on a short internal flight. While leafing through the publication, I stumbled across a feature that struck me as having no little cultural significance. It was a single-frame, full-page advertisement for some commodity or other set in a stylish contemporary bathroom that could have been located in more or less any major city in the western world. The central focus of the feature in question falls upon a young attractive heterosexual couple dressed solely in bath towels and caught in what might perhaps be best described as an implausibly gymnastic pre-coital clinch. The woman who appears in the frame seems blissfully unaware of the presence of the camera as she longingly addresses her partner. He does not, however, return her gaze. Rather, the reflection in the bathroom mirror shows the male subject looking squarely into the eye of the reader/viewer. Eyebrows arched suggestively beneath a fulsome mane of fashionably spiked hair, his expression is that of a sublime sexual self-confidence that demands our prurient admiration.

The general tone and form of the promotion outlined above could scarcely, of course, be considered innovative or daring. Sexual images and innuendo have, after all, become so commonplace in contemporary advertising that they often fail to register in any meaningful way with the audience. The advertisement under examination here does, however, contain one remarkable detail that makes it distinctly worthy of our attention. The young man, who is in effect the central figure of the promotion, almost inevitably exhibits an appetite for the current vogue of elaborate body art. Across his broad back there appears an enormous tattoo that comprises a single word mapped out in a decidedly baroque and ersatz version of traditional Celtic script. The text that the young suitor has chosen to bear offers a simple but unmistakable declaration of his pride in being 'Irish'.

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