I just finished reading Timothy Eagan’s latest on Outposts: The Orphans of Ireland:
If Barack Obama, the president with roots in County Offaly, were to skip across the Irish Sea this week he would find a big part of what afflicted much of the western world during a mad era.
Houses prices quadrupled in less than a decade. Every village that had seen nary a rock wall or a cottage window unchanged suddenly had a cul de sac of insta-homes and a half-dozen O’Mansions. Anyone with a mortgage could get rich in little more time than it took for a head of Guinness to settle.
The crash was sickening, and much like Ernest Hemingway’s description of going broke: slowly, then all at once. Throughout Ireland, more than one in eight homes now sits empty. The skyline is crowded with idle cranes towering over roofless apartments. Property prices have plummeted across Ireland. And as the government plans drastic service cuts, people worry that Ireland will follow Iceland into insolvency.
If the “orphans of Ireland” stand in place, “as long as the beehive huts or Hussey’s tower,” there will be something learned from them:
The huts are a testament to perseverance. The tower is a monument of hope against despair. And the empty new homes tell a story of greed.
The greed has taken it’s toll in so many places. Long may we learn from the lessons… At least until the next recession.