19:41 PM

Generation X Ireland

I am one of the few socialists left in Irish politics.

Said Bertie Ahern in an interview with The Irish Times in November 2004. He said this as head of government and head of his party Fianna Fail.

In May 2008 Bertie Ahern resigned in a year when the property bubble had burst, and prices appeared to be in freefall. By the second quarter of 2010, house prices in Ireland had fallen by 35% compared with the second quarter of 2007, and the number of housing loans approved fell by 73%*.

For those of us mid to late 30’s, we have been taken on a rollercoaster economically speaking. The Celtic Tiger? We remember that. We graduated secondary school with that going on around us, but we do, especially if we have older siblings, also remember the unemployment of the 1980’s. Especially if it effected our parents when we were children.

We went through the grunge era of music in the 90’s, Nirvana, Pearl Jam. We went from having no internet, to dial up, to broadband. We went from having landline phones, to Motorola’s with arials, to smartphones. We have adapted.

But we never really did trust the Celtic Tiger, oh no, and it was common knowledge at the time that to speak badly of the Celtic Tiger was to make it stop, like a mass delusion. People became so materialistic. As ‘grungers’ that wore ripped jeans and charity shop clothes, who remembered the 80’s and had quite a social conscience, it didn’t suit us. But it seemed to suit a different type of person, maybe 10 years older than us. Perhaps they had been slogging away at their un-inspiring work for 10 years and finally felt they were reaping the rewards? Whatever the reason for those that thrived under it, the main takeaway was, don’t talk about it.

I’m technically a millennial, but I’m either barely generation X being born too late, or barely millennial being born too soon. I pulled myself up from waitressing, to a career in web design, web design, a job that literally didn’t exist when I was young. And here’s another thing, when I say literally I mean literally!

And where is my place in the world today? The Celtic Tiger was an illusion, a delusion, as we knew at the time. And now, post bust, society has returned to non materialism, which should be a good thing. Is enforced non materialism a good thing? It’s something that feels like it should be a choice. We are back in charity shops, either because rents are at an all time high, up 70% nationally from their lowest point*, or because we are so painfully aware of climate change and the environment that we try to re-use and re-cycle everywhere we can.

There was quite literally (see what I did there), a radio show recently that covered the issue that the price of clothing in charity shops was too high, and I agreed that it was! What the heck kind of standard of living do we have today if this is a topic of interest?

The average disposable income according to CSO data, has been on the up since 2014, household incomes seem to be good, steady. The number of mortgage arrears on principal housing dwellings has come down from a peak in 2013, but still remains double what it was in 2009, but shhhh. We can’t talk about that or we will break the recovery spell.

Winky face.

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_property_bubble

** https://www.daft.ie/report/ronan-lyons-2018q1-rental

** https://www.centralbank.ie/docs/default-source/statistics/data-and-analysis/credit-and-banking-statistics/mortgage-arrears/2018q1_ie_mortgage_arrears_statistics.pdf?sfvrsn=11