There is nothing worse than the returned immigrant who complains endlessly about his home country and compares it negatively to his adopted homeland. My parents' generation would have been familiar with this stereotype. The newly minted Yank. However, the roles have reversed. When I get home, things seem dramatically improved, (though, saying that, Galway's urban planners seem to go out of their way to destroy the city's charm), but when I mention this, the retort is an endless barrage of complaints: Ireland is too expensive, too corrupt, the traffic is dreadful, etc. Not that these aren't legitimate complaints, but no one seems to remember how bad it was before. Recently, my Dad put all his Super 8 silent movies on video for me. Plenty of wet and windy St. Paddy's Day parades. What is most noticeable is how dreary and run down Limerick looked compared with today.
Richard Delevan writes at Richard Delevan's sicNotes blog
. He also writes for the Irish newspaper, The Sunday Tribune
. I don't agree with much of what he says on Iraq, and some of what he says generally, but I like his directness and honesty, and it's always good to hear an intelligent view point which differs from your own. He has an entry today about Charlie McCreevey. Up to last year, before he was appointed European Commissioner with responsibility for the Internal Market and Services portfolio, McCreevey was Ireland's Finance Minister. He was the intellectual, and arguably the actual architect, of Ireland's new found prosperity. Here's a quote from Delevan's post, which also appeared in the Tribune:
“It took nearly 30 years for Charlie McCreevy's ideas to be accepted across most of the political spectrum and for their astounding success to be realised. It's taken just a year since he left for people to begin to forget why we have the luxury and freedom to debate how to best enjoy our prosperity."
I couldn’t agree more. I liked it so much I emailed Richard. Here's what I said:
Great post Richard. I read your blog regularly, although we disagree on many things, I like hearing your point of view.
I am your reverse a not so stray Irishman in the U.S. It drives me up the wall how Irish people moan about their successes. I left when there was 22% unemployment, and that included me and all my mates, most of whom had postgraduate qualifications. All of them left. Most came back again, and many have enjoyed the fruits of the Celtic Tiger. Several started business, they all have families and have bought houses, this was almost inconceivable 15 years ago. There was a strain of left wing thinking, (as opposed to Liberal thinking - there is a difference), that was the accepted norm when I was in college. It was a form of anti-capitalism that came from a general lack of experience in the real world. I often feel that many of my Irish peers are either still stuck in this rut, or have failed to develop politically and instead have adopted cynicism as a political ideology - despite all evidence to the contrary.
I hated Fianna Fail in college, they seemed so self-serving and corrupt, and I still can't trust them without the PD’s to keep them in line, (the reverse is also true), but I always admired Charlie McCreevey, He seemed a straight talker who understood reality and worked within its confines. Ireland's John McCain, if you will. That he made such an impression, in a country where being honest can be political suicide, is a miracle.