A visit to the Holy Land (Ireland) over the past couple of weeks has allowed me to view the land of my birth with new eyes. It made me realize that the news of the demise of the Celtic Tiger is a malicious, completely unfounded rumor; the beast merely rests.
Unlike emigrants of old I have been fortunate enough to visit Ireland many times over the past twenty plus years since my emigration to the land of opportunity on a scorching July 24th 1987, when I arrived into the 110 degree Calcutta-bazaar-like JFK, laden with matching bulging Dunnes-stores suitcases.
In the time since we have all seen Ireland arise from the depths of economic misery to the heights of boom and prosperity, and with it rose our pride in being Irish. Ireland mustn’t take this current recession as a curse on the Emerald Isle, everyone else is in the same boat.
Make no mistake, Ireland is a great country, filled with great people. We Irish have an unfortunate national tendency to embrace scenarios of doom as is currently the case, but rest assured, the sky is not falling. Concentrating on the positive has lifted many an economy in the past. Dare I say it, the U.S. economy is beginning to turn as I write (fingers crossed) because people believe that it will.
What strikes you as you travel around Dublin is the extent of development that has taken place over the past ten years. Dublin has become a subtle metropolis filled with glass, steel and concrete intermixed with the lattice of historical buildings. It is a city filled with the energy of youth, the wisdom of age and the money of foreigners. In place is an infrastructure poised for continued and sustained growth.
The world’s recession is Ireland’s opportunity. If Ireland hustles, it will pick up the springboard of success in time for the recovery. A word of wisdom for the Prime Minister – pour the coals into business development. Ireland has a finite young workforce, favorable corporate tax rates and a limited population. A near perfect and unique formula.
The Ireland of today is not the Ireland of the 1980s – not even close. For those of us who lived through those recessionary (depression) times years ago many of the signals of the current climate ring familiar bells. But it is not the same. Ireland has taken on the physique of an economic athlete. And like an athlete it will thrive on challenges.
While the country shakes off the trash accumulated from the first round of success it should take note of past missteps and make sure that they are not repeated. The past is not a place for wallowing; it is a place where lessons are learned. The trick is not to allow them to happen again.
Economically Ireland is still the new kid on the block, and with that position come advantages that other economies don’t enjoy. The government must do its part in lifting the national spirit from the doldrums of glumness to the knife-edge of expectation again. If the Irish people believe that the future is theirs, it will be; no doubt about it.
Every person in business in Ireland is an ambassador for the country. Everyone they meet in their travels – real and virtual – is a potential investor, a potential employer. If the government provides a feather-bed of incentives to attract new business while the rest of the world is literally hosing money around in an attempt to stabilize their own economies, Irish industrial parks may have a new feature at their gates; a ‘full’ sign.
Wake that Tiger up; it’s time to get going.