Tuesday 26 February 2008

In Dublin

I'm writing this from a room on the third floor of the Harcourt Hotel in Dublin. I used to live around the corner from this place, on Synge street, for most of the time I lived in this town. It's slightly odd to be staying here at a hotel, but only slightly. It's been almost five years now since I left Dublin, and my relationship to it lies somewhere in the mix of tourist and native, the classic ex-pat condition.

I remember an evening I spent in the company of an Irish friend of mine from Raheny, and his Arizona-born wife, in their hotel room in Jury's, up on Christchurch, about six years ago. They had been living in Phoenix for a while, where they both became lawyers, then they moved back to Dublin to try to make a life here, but the ground kept shifting from under their feet, and they found the ways of Dublin and the legal trade here too stiff and unwelcoming to the skills and qualifications of outsiders, so ultimately they found their way back to the desert, to Tucson, where the the climate suited their new skin.

Last night I heard about another friend, from Germany, who tried to move here with his wife and children, after a life-long passionate love affair with Dublin and many years of living here, but again, even in this celtic tiger economy and with sophisticated skills and experience, his wife couldn't get a job, so they've moved back to Germany. It's interesting to look at some of the choices made in this self-selecting culture.

Who and what thrives here, and what is left out in the cold to find its own way elsewhere? There's so much talked about this economy and how everybody's making so much money and how rich everybody is, talk about kings and tribe and millionaires and the great Irish entrepreneurial spirit, but that's the story written by those who succeeded on the terms of this newly made world, not those who had to leave it, or those who are being forced out of their homes because of climbing interest rates on their 100% mortgages.

There are even smaller, more specific stories, the kind of stories that are like the face of one of the new breed of celebutante spokesmodel sunday indo darlings when she's alone at night, and stripped of all that mascara and make up, and fearing to glance at her naked reflection in her bathroom mirror, stories that are naked and rarely seen, rarely heard of, stories that are so easily eclipsed by the noise of the glory and the bling bling.

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