As the boom was getting "even more boomer" back in the days of prosperity, an unusual development happened in relationships. I know, all relationships are unusual at some level -- it's a mystery how people make them work.
But in Ireland in recent years, a trend occurred which demonstrates exactly how the Bridget Jones generation has been keeping their love lives ticking. Necessity taught them the art of compromise.
Irish women realised they couldn't have their wedding cake and eat it; and rather than moulder sulkily like Miss Havisham, they found a solution. They have been busy falling in love and nesting across class lines. On paper, they have been marrying down.
Which shows a recognition -- far from universal among the female sex -- that status matters less than other things in life.
It seems high-achieving Irish women, who are more likely than their male counterparts to enter third-level education, discovered a shortage of men swimming in educational and employment ponds equivalent to theirs. Instead of paddling about on their own feeling blighted, these women looked for partners outside their pool: men who didn't match them academically, or whose jobs weren't regarded as being on a par.
Some might call it dumbing down, although the brightest and most able people aren't necessarily the best educated, and the professions aren't the only worthwhile contributors to society.
Others might call it a modern take on the trade-off of assets which has always occurred during the age-old search for a mate.
Once, the principal capital a woman had to negotiate with was her looks. And an appealing face will always remain valuable stock, allowing its owner to pick and choose. Beauty is a rule-breaker -- always was, always will be. How else did the "pretty, witty" actress Nell Gwyn catch and keep Charles II's eye? For proof it remains a factor today, look no further than Kate Middleton and Prince William.
But now her appearance is not a woman's only lure. There's an add-on: her occupation -- which translates into earning power -- is a relatively new advantage. It also offers her the freedom not to settle down, an undeniable plus because it allows a woman to make choices.
Except professional women who do want to be in a committed relationship have come eyeball to eyeball with a reality they may not have anticipated, back when they were cramming for exams: they can't necessarily expect to attract a spouse at the same position on the social and economic pyramid.
At least that's what a fascinating new report jointly published by the Family Support Agency and the Economic and Social Research Institute indicates. Dr Pete Lunn of the ESRI and Prof Tony Fahey of UCD analysed the 2006 Census to form a picture of relationships in their report, 'Households and Family Structures in Ireland'.
Ireland, statistics tell us, has more educated women than men -- women are nearly twice as likely to have a higher education than their male partners. In one-third of couples aged 26 to 40, the woman has achieved more academically, compared to 18pc of couples where the man has higher qualifications under his belt. And in more than two in five young couples where the woman is active in the labour market, she ticks the higher-class occupation box.
This means that when it comes to settling down, compromise is necessary. Elsewhere in the world, the probabilities indicate that women in particular professions and with third or fourth-level education will marry someone comparable.
But not here. That used to be the case until well into the 20th century, but an adjustment has taken place. You could call it a social transformation. Once, 30 acres didn't marry 15, as the traditional saying goes -- meaning people from broadly similar economic backgrounds tended to form couples. In recent years, however, there has been a swing away from this norm.
It's rather reassuring -- if not downright empowering -- to see Irish women haven't followed the example of their international sisters, as illustrated (and sometimes satirised) in books and films, and sat round moaning about the lack of single, solvent males. They have found decent men -- even if it took some adjustment to their expectations.
No doubt some women who pursued education and career delayed finding a mate, and discovered the shelves were sparsely stacked. But that can only be part of the story.
Could it be that some of these men they have chosen, with fewer academic qualifications, may be kinder or handsomer or more hands-on fathers? Could it be that a man who's useful at DIY is as desirable as a man with a dental practice?
OR could it be that men from socio-economic groups technically ranked below the women's had financial allure? After all, skilled tradesmen -- when in work -- earn more than some professionals.
Statistics don't supply reasons, but I have a theory. During the Celtic Tiger years, barriers were broken down as men from building backgrounds rose through the social ranks. Remember Sean Dunne, the Baron of Ballsbridge? He was a rough diamond who married Gayle Killilea, a social diarist about town.
There were only so many developers to go round -- fortunately, in view of the crash. So on a less rarefied level, teachers, librarians and office workers with third-level education have been pairing off with plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Maybe they weren't just nice guys, but also seemed like a good bet income-wise.
Now that this sector has been identified, the challenge is to persuade policy-makers to act on it.
If women are higher earners, either potentially or in reality, in a significant number of cases, parental leave should replace maternal leave to allow for family flexibility.
And unless more adjustable working arrangements are agreed, inevitably some women will leave the workplace to raise their children -- meaning a loss in human capital.
But the report raises another conundrum, for which it proves less easy to deliver instant solutions. If women are outstripping men educationally, why aren't they running the country politically and running companies economically? Why are there so few successful Irish women?
Perhaps it's due to the narrow outlook of our society, which pushes them off the career escalator as soon as their own personal baby boom takes place.