Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review of Ireland Unhinged

I just got done reading Ireland Unhinged by David Monagan. I had heard about it while listening to the local public radio station around St. Patricks day. It intrigued me because I visited Ireland last summer, a year ago I helped a professor write an article on Irish tax and the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger, and I like the idea of making a radical change to your life (like moving to Ireland, or raising goats) to prevent middle aged american ennui (which I think is a unique problem americans have).

The synopsis of this book is that a guy from Connecticut moves his family (three kids and a wife) to Cork Ireland because he and his wife think it would make them happy. Obviously he has a job, as a writer, that can move easily, and his wife ends up coordinating events for an opera house, so event coordinator is something that can be done anywhere I guess, and the kids were all of an age when they moved (between 10 and 13) to see it as a wonderful adventure and not as a terrible punishment. But the book is not just about his move to Ireland. It is also about Ireland, the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger of the early 2000's, the development boom and crash and how it was being played out among the Irish people. I found this aspect of the book very interesting because of my work on the legal article.
But then the book is also about the authors quest to discover Ireland, he travels all over and talks to all sorts, witches in Donegal, priests in Belfast, and bankers in Dublin in 2010. (If you know anything about Ireland in the 2000's, or the 20th century, or how the global recession has effected them, you know why these encounters really do tell a story of Ireland). In his quest to discover Ireland he visits the past, via its literature and historic monuments, and its present with tourism and American stereotypes.

Overall the book is a little scattered, and the writing isn't tight. But if you have an interest in Ireland I would recommend it, because it tells a very important story of boom and bust and the book reads like a conversation (or series of conversations) with a regular at a pub; they're all over the place but they're very interesting.

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