What do you think when you read this e-mail comments that came through from a reader to ValueIreland.com recently?
Deciding on the spur of the moment to take a summer break this year, prior to maybe going belly up, due to the economic slump over here in England. I set off with friends for a two week sojourn to The West of Ireland for a well earned rest from financial angst. After landing and picking up a hire car at Knock then driving to Clairemorris (where we were staying) I was somewhat taken aback to see The West in such dire economic straights. True we read and hear about this kind of strife through the media, but seeing with ones own eyes was shocking and really did take some believing.
So what happened. Is or was it plain old greed, bad housekeeping, a honeymoon post an unsuitable marriage turned bad, or can we just blame it all on the the good old government?
Radio stations were being bombarded with calls about rip-off prices for hotel rooms, pints of beer, sprits, and even….Bulmer’s cider in various parts of The West. One broadcast even spoke of The Murphia smuggling cigarettes across the border from The North thus flooding once affluent streets with effluent cheap Chinese fags!
After two beautiful weeks spent travelling around: Mayo, Connemara, Clare and Galway checking out quite wonderful sights amidst continuing effing rain. I came to the conclusion sitting in an empty pub on Achill Island, having lunch with my travelling companions, the once proud Roar of The Celtic Tiger is no more… than a whimper.
Once thriving towns, villages and cities rife with boarded up shops and houses, businesses for sale or just closed down, half completed housing schemes stopped as if by wildcat strikes, reminded one of European holiday destinations in the eighty’s and ninety’s on the verge of economic bankruptcy.
Skilled tradesmen are jobless and redundancy beckons for many more, as the cost of living soars to the point of us saying amongst ourselves “I can buy that for half the price back in England”.
I was told of a house just outside Athenry costing 2 million euro plus to build being stopped near completion due to its owner needing the funds to keep his ailing business empire solvent.
As the cash conscious man in the street searches for value, the empty aisled supermarkets battle for business by raising and then lowering prices at the drop of a hat, trying to entice punters in with their special “Back to School” offers that have no relevance. “Buy Irish” is the order of the day on all the shelves as the community conscience is tugged to get behind local farmers and food producers.
Across the country almost eighteen hundred public houses have closed or are on the verge as terrified landlords hold talks with breweries trying to cut the price of beer to that, which the very same breweries sell at lower cost to the super-markets, in order to keep their businesses and staff in jobs.
What I’m writing about may sound to some as the ramblings of a complete and utter eejit, after all this country (England) had been struggling economically for some time with slight progress being made to rise above it, so I should have been at least aware of what was going on back in Ireland.
That may well be so, but looking back on these last two weeks, I have to say hand on heart as much as it pains me, Ireland looks and feels like a country fast dying on it’s feet judging by what I’ve recently witnessed.