Tuesday 12 December 2017

Review: When the luck of the Irish ran out by David Lynch

(Macmillan €16.99)

'WHEN the Luck of the Irish Ran Out' is an unfortunate title for an interesting book.

Written by David Lynch of 'USA Today', a Washington-based reporter who has a holiday home in Ireland, it shows how a sophisticated outsider views Ireland's economic troubles.

While the crisis here has attracted a fair amount of comment overseas, there are almost no book-length accounts by foreigners capable of bringing perspective to our troubles.

Given the Irish propensity to exaggerate both our strengths and weaknesses and the parochial nature of much of the commentary here, this is useful but other than a certain perspective, there is little that is new here.

Lynch is scathing about the political class, often quoting Taoiseach Brian Cowen to great effect.

One forgets just how wrong Cowen has been on the origins of the crisis and how reluctant he has been to shoulder even the smallest amount of responsibility for our problems.

He is also strong on how the country lost the run of itself but anybody who lived through the boom is unlikely to forget the mis-spent money in a hurry; especially if they are still paying it back.


Where Lynch is useful is his American optimism. He sees our faults and mistakes clearly and this makes his optimism palatable.

It is not Brian Cowen's fake optimism -- indeed, Lynch comments that the worst thing that could happen to Ireland now would be an upswing in the world economy because it would let the elite off the hook.

Lynch has a deeper optimism: that we will end our cute-hoor culture and finally grow up as a country. At one stage, he notes the country is as old as the United States was when the civil war broke out between north and south.


It is throwaway comments such as these that remind us that this nation has a long way to travel and many opportunities to once again join those countries that have some control over their destinies and become a fully functioning democracy.

In keeping with Lynch's optimism, the book ends with an upbeat quote from the 93-year-old T K Whitaker, who opines: "We may not confess openly to our wrongdoings -- but I think we learn from experience . . . and then we hopefully will re-emerge on the broad sunlit uplands."

It's a nice thought -- and it may even be true.

Irish Independent

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