Thursday 18 January 2018

A brief history of that week in 2008

Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

As news of the bank guarantee filtered out of Government Buildings, the shock and sense of insecurity were already being felt in homes right across the country.

When they were not absorbing the latest revelations about the banks on the night after the guarantee, TV viewers were perhaps watching Ryan Confidential – where the late Gerry Ryan aimed to "get behind the public persona of a celebrity".

Proving that TV schedules never really change, RTE showed Notting Hill – comfort-viewing for the worried householder as the country went down the tubes.

The Irish Independent reported that TV viewing figures had soared as cash-strapped consumers suddenly stayed at home and stopped going out to restaurants and pubs.

In that week, Derry Clarke of L'Ecrivain restaurant noticed the dramatic change of mood. "On Monday night (the night of the guarantee), the place was packed, but it was dead on Tuesday."

The crash manifested itself in other dramatic ways.

One report said: "As the economy sags, there has never been a better time for breast augmentation (well, for women at least). Cosmetic surgeons Cosmedico says they have knocked €1,000 off the price of breast enlargements."

Coffee lovers were said to be more reluctant to shell out €4 on some fancy-named brew from a cafe, but Irish supermarkets reported an increase in sales of instant coffee.

Fussier coffee connoisseurs might have baulked at that. So they resorted to making their own espressos. Sales of coffee machines increased, the Irish Independent reported.

Traffic in the capital was already beginning to ease as construction and other businesses ground to a halt.

A Dublin taxi driver told the Irish Independent during that dark September: "It has become very noticeable in the last few months that it is much easier to get around.''

The average taxi driver probably had plenty of reason to give out about the crisis.

It was reported that since stepping down as taoiseach the previous May, Bertie Ahern had received severance pay worth €68,000, while continuing as a backbench Fianna Fáil TD.

Kim Bielenberg

Irish Independent

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