For the last four years, I’ve been able to witness the descent of Ireland from self-proclaimed boom country (or “Celtic Tiger“) to one of the most indebted countries in Europe. But does economic downturn mean also a cultural downturn?
When I came to Dublin in 2007, I was expecting the city to be comparable to my hometown Cologne. It has the same size, the same small and well-arranged city center and I was expecting a plethora of indie clubs, alternative stores and a vibrant cultural scene. I was disappointed. It seemed people were only focussing on spending a fortune at HMV, going to the movies very often and drink colourful longdrinks in shiny new bars mostly frequented by bankers and solicitors. I did find a couple of places and areas with an alternative touch, but these were few and far between.
Image by UnkieDave
Now, in 2011 (and already in 2010), Dublin finally has all the quirkiness and flair I have missed for quite a while. We have music collectives popping up left and right, Steampunk flea markets, artists designing election posters, an initiative for cultural exchange with Iceland (another crashed island nation), new shops and bars moving into spaces vacated by big business and an overall feeling of “we’re bankrupt anyway, so who cares?”.
So it seems there is a silver lining at the horizon for Ireland – it may not be economic recovery in the next five years, but the possibility of creating something of value that’s not hard cash. And I’m eager to see what comes next.
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