I thought it was about time I contributed a thought or two to this account of gadding about and supping up large. We are very much enjoying Ireland, but prior to our arrival an academic friend of mine who has done much work here warned us that ‘it’s not all the way you see in the tourist sites’ and she is right.
One of my colleagues is a younger guy with whom I have had some good discussions about aspects of life in Ireland. I have noticed that the Irish are quite self-deprecating. While they share the dislike of blowing your own trumpet with Kiwis, they go further than that and are quite reluctant to acknowledge expertise even if it’s recognised by other people. I have commented to a couple of academics here that their practice is very good, to be faced with the ‘sure, it’s not that great!’ and they MEAN it. So getting them to promote it via the writing of academic papers, or taking work to conferences, is going to be an uphill battle I think, and it’s something I am being paid to get them doing.
Another thing is the ongoing ‘austerity measures’. My colleague was explaining why life can be so difficult for folk here in Ireland, economically. Salaries went very high during the Celtic Tiger years, and people bought property for inflated prices which are now devalued to the point that many folk are in negative equity. If salaries were cut they’d suffer even more, so places like universities have to find other ways to cut costs. Mostly it seems to be by not replacing people who leave, so the remaining staff are heavily burdened. It’s pretty sad.
My colleague, when I asked why people don’t object more about things, said it’s not in the culture. He said they’re mocked by other nationalities in the EU for ‘rolling over on the austerity measures’ when places like Spain and Portugal and Greece have refused to go along with these. But Irish people, says my colleague, have a long history of ‘rolling over’ when pushed, and it’s hard to challenge the mentality. I don’t know if he’s right, but it would explain a few things I’ve noted here.
End of social commentary for a bit – readers can go back to enjoying Bruce’s accounts of travels, events and food! We are looking forward to my sister’s arrival next week, and that of Sarah and Kirsty (overlapping) in a couple of weeks. Missing friends and family but sure, having a grand time!