WHEN the recession came tumbling through the decked backyards of Ireland those voices who suddenly knew a way out — even though they had clearly failed to find the proper way in — pinpointed two ways in which Ireland might come back.
One was through the likes of you, the readers of The Irish Post.
No longer had you emigrated to a place where you could just be forgotten about. No longer were you to be dismissed as plastic paddies, you desperate Irish wannabes.
No, that was all a terrible misunderstanding and now you were to be the saviours of our economy, warmly welcomed and given certificates of heritage and the like.
Indeed, in an ironic mirroring of the remittances from 1950s emigrants that actually did keep the country afloat back then, Ireland’s economic woes were going to be solved by tapping into the goodwill of the Irish outside of Ireland.
The previously ignored and derided. As the actor Gabriel Byrne put it, this was going to be a shake down and Ireland Inc. would run off with all the money.
The second way was, to the surprise of many, going to be through the arts. In this way Ireland would celebrate its pretty incredible literary heritage and draw in visitors by showcasing Ireland as a haven for the arts.
The fact that many of our greatest writers got the hell out of Ireland as soon as they could would of course be ignored. This was to be about putting bums on restaurant seats and heads on hotel pillows.
Of course there had been a relationship between official Ireland and the arts prior to this... in that our banks liked to hang art up in their corporate buildings.
Bank of Ireland sold off its 2,000 piece art collection in 2010 raising €1.5million from the sale. Like cufflinks and certain kinds of shirts, corporate Ireland had a grá for things that made it look sophisticated.
But most Irish emigrants though and their descendants and most Irish artists never get to see the inside of shining corporate corridors. Don’t go looking in those places if you want to find out what Irish artists are saying and thinking about Ireland.
You could do a lot worse though than take a look at a YouTube piece that has already garnered over 5,000 views, which is pretty incredible for a piece of spoken word poetry.
It is by Dave Lordan and it is called My Mother Speaks to me of Suicide.
Lordan is especially relevant in this context as the Corkman was actually born in Derby and is one of our leading contemporary poets.
If you want to know about Irish art as it is and not as an economist thinks it might be valued, then you need to know about Dave Lordan. His work, and especially this piece about an issue that effects so many in Ireland, is simply true to the texture of Ireland as it actually is.
If someone asked me how they could access the experience we had growing up as second generation Irish in a British city I would pinpoint various things.
This would include showband music to late night sessions to football to going home to Ireland to Catholic school to the IRA to being surrounded by Irish parents.
If they were to ask me how to access the experience of living in Ireland now, I’d pinpoint again any number of varied and surprising things and one of them would be the work of Dave Lordan.
Walk around Ireland next time you’re over with a book of his in your pocket and you’ll get a flavour of what life here is really like. Because, after all, those economists were right, just not in the way they thought they were.
One of the best things about Ireland is those who left and their children. But they are far more than a possible financial asset.
One of the other great things is the army of Irish artists and poets who follow the Irish tradition of trying to make sense of the world in a way that sometimes helps us all.
Take a look at that YouTube piece and I think you’ll know what I mean.