Terry Prone: After a less than perfect '10 here's to a happy new year

Weren't we innocent, this time last year? We thought we had seen the worst and we could now take a deep breath, and get on with our lives.

We couldn't have been more wrong if we'd tried.

The banking crisis turned into a cataclysm. Not only was it painful, it was weird.

Weird in that the nation had reached a point where owning everything was a dated concept.

We had sold off Eircom (and let's not dwell on how badly we did it). We had sold off a good chunk of Aer Lingus. (Not perfect, either: remember the Michael O'Leary factor.) We were shaping up to sell off the ESB and Bord Gais.

Overnight, we stopped selling stuff and instead, bought a bucketful of banks that nobody, least of all us, actually wanted.

The other weird thing was that Ireland began to look like the current Broadway production of Spider-Man.

You know the one where the frame designed to sweep Spidey through the sky mutinied and dumped him 30ft on to a hard stage?

The production which has had everything go wrong with it other than snow and cockroaches?

Rumour has it that you can't get a ticket for love nor money for that show, because of the possibility that you'll get to witness some spectacular disaster even worse than what has happened thus far.

Ireland and the Spider-Man production had a lot in common, this last year.

Every time Brian Lenihan told us we were getting rave reviews from the international economists, Standard & Poor or some other ratings agency downgraded us like a shelf of remaindered books.

Every time international media patted us on the back for our economic rigour, something went badly wrong.

And the next thing we knew, we had outside broadcast units from NBC, BBC, Fox News and probably the Discovery Channel creating traffic jams outside Leinster House in their readiness to bring the latest Irish misery to TV screens across the world.

Two Government ministers said we weren't talking to anybody about a bailout, yet within days Mr Chopra arrived with the bailout. They told us the number of billions that had to be saved in the Budget -- and then doubled it.

You wouldn't know who to believe and you wouldn't know what to pawn.

All any of us knows is that the Budget from hell is going to kick into action in the early months of the new year.

And if we thought our standard of living dropped last year, the drop is going to seem minor compared to what will happen in 2011.

Add snow, broken bones from falls on ice, lost working days, burst pipes, the prospect of filling out insurance forms and water shortages and you'd think the nation would have its head in its hands, dreading the arrival of the new year.

But it's not. That's the odd thing.

A survey published yesterday suggests a majority of Irish people actually look forward to 2011 with optimism.

Okay, it's a narrow majority -- roughly six out of 10 people -- but it IS a majority.

But the fact is that more of us feel good about the coming year than feel bad about it.


We've given up hope of getting back to where we were, we're not sure where we're going, but we're beginning to cop on that if we keep looking back, we're going to trip over something.

This time last year, we thought we had hit rock bottom. We hadn't and coping with the extra bad news distracted us from becoming a bit more positive. It's difficult to be optimistic when you're dodging bullets.

But now we have a palpable hunger for optimism.

We're ready to be doing, not moaning, rebuilding, not sitting in the wreckage, looking forward to something better, not examining our disappointments.

We're in a good place from which to make a great 2011.

Here's to it ... and to us!