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Lecture analyzes Celtic Tiger

| Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sarah L. Townsend, a visiting faculty fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute, traced in a talk Friday the literary usage of the term “pig” during the Celtic Tiger period in Ireland.

Townsend analyzed the Celtic Tiger, a name for the rapid economic growth of the Republic of Ireland in the late 1990s, in the lecture titled “Miracles of Development: From Irish pigs to Celtic Tigers,” which focused particularly on Patrick McCabe’s “The Butcher Boy” and Enda Walsh’s “Disco Pigs.” 

“The works serve as fascinating barometers of the Celtic Tiger sentiment by capturing the early dizzying promises while simultaneously conveying depression for its excesses, exclusions and violent ends,” she said.

These pig-oriented narratives reveal the mental logic of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath, Townsend said. The Irish works by McCabe and Walsh convey well the transition of Ireland into the Celtic Tiger and the subsequent depression, she said.

The authors’ portrayal of characters emphasizes the country’a mentality during the time of transition into the Celtic Tiger economy, Townsend said.

“McCabe’s and Walsh’s texts critique the piggish tendencies that development in Ireland caused because of the economic development of the latter 20th century … such as calling out the excesses of Celtic Tiger society,” she said.

One example of aligning the transformation of characters to the transformation of the Irish people’s mentality was marking the characters’ development in terms of piggish consumption, Townsend said.

“Development of consumer desires [by the characters] mark the emergence of a socialized and mature individual finally able to make and spend like the Celtic Tiger demand,” she said.

The characters’ ultimate decline by over-consumption echoes the fate of the Celtic Tiger, which Townsend said transitioned Ireland from the country with the highest standard of living in the world in 2005 to one with a depressed economy by 2010.

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