March 24, 2010

Hometown fightback: it's time to get the ball rolling

Posted in Ireland · 199 comments ·

I walked by the barbers in Dalkey yesterday and for a split second I was back in the mid-1970s. I was once again the little boy with the flaming red hair, short pants and freckles looking up at the kind barber. The boy had a dilemma and the barber was the only person in the whole world who could solve it.

My earliest memories of Castle Street, Dalkey, were Saturday mornings in Dom McClure’s barber shop with my father. Dom cut my grandad’s hair, my dad’s hair and now he was shearing mine.

Most importantly, everyone in Dalkey knew that Dom McClure understood hair and his magic hair oil could turn my red hair black so that no one in school would ever call me rusty, redser or jaffahead again. Dom was not just a barber, he was my saviour and through Dom I would be redeemed. He promised that by the time I was 10, I’d be jet black. I believed him.

As usual, when I peeked into the shop on a Saturday morning, Dom put on his best Scottish accent which he called “Scotch”, gently mocking my grandfather who came from Scotland to Dalkey in the 1920s. According to Dom, both my grandparents had “shocking Scotch accents”.

Back then, Dom had a plank that he’d place carefully across the arms of the barber’s chair so a young fella could sit up and see himself in the yellowed mirror. I loved the barber, the smell of the hair oil, the wireless in the corner, the copies of the Irish Independent and the football talk. I felt like this was my entree into the world of men. And Dom conferred status on me by handing over the huge brush to sweep up the hair.

The barber, like the grocer, the draper and pub were part of the community and this was where people came to chat and keep up-to-date with what was going on in the town. A few doors up from the barber — which is still thriving — my grandfather had a sign-writing shop but he had one fatal flaw as a businessman: he didn’t like asking people for money. He went bust in the 1950s, bequeathing me a life-long affinity with struggling traders.

The spectre of the 1950s is once again haunting the businesses of the town. If any small town loses its shops and businesses, it loses what makes the place special. Over the years, people have moved into Dalkey because of its special atmosphere, because it is a living and working town with a community at its core. This could be lost in this recession.

To see how one closure leads to another, you only have to look at the many English villages and towns where there are actually no shops with the exception of one or two chainstores on the outskirts. It is essential to a town’s life, atmosphere and community that it survives as a trading hub with its own ecosystem. And for that ecosystem to survive, it needs cobblers and chippers as much as it does boutiques and bars.

The ‘Dalkey dilemma’ is valid in any town in Ireland. If the heart of the town is thriving or at least surviving, the community can flourish. But, like many towns in Ireland now, the town and the traders of Dalkey are not thriving. In fact, many are barely staying open. In the past 12 months, 10 local businesses have closed down and some traders are saying they are only months away from closure. In fact, the post office on dole day is the only shop with a queue in it. Last Tuesday, the queue was out the door.

This is what the credit crunch means in reality. Small businesses which are the backbone of our economy are being hammered by the banks tightening credit while costs remain stubbornly high. All the while, we the customers — aware of the dole queues — are keeping our hands in our pockets and postponing spending because, as prices fall, there are better bargains to be had.

But when a small business closes it doesn’t open again in a hurry and something is lost. The lifeblood of any town — whether it is Dalkey or Drogheda, Listowel or Lahinch — is the vibrancy of the local shops. If this goes, the town dies. And towns do die. This happens slowly but the pattern is as follows. One or two businesses go bust and then their premises come up for rent. The empty premises decline, become shoddy and this puts off new players who are worried about passing trade. Rents mightn’t move because the landlords are in trouble and don’t want to admit that they have to mark down the value of their portfolio. The banks get worried and cut back credit. People sense this and a little bit of the town’s spark ebbs away. Unless someone shouts stop, this process can become self-fulfilling.

Last night the traders of Dalkey shouted stop and they held an extraordinary meeting in the town hall of small businesses, shopkeepers, hairdressers, pub owners, restaur- ateurs, butchers, the local guards, the hotelier and even the local bank manager. The organisers expected about a dozen people to turn up — close to a hundred came.

The local traders have decided that there is little point waiting for the recovery; you have to make it happen. If you are concerned about your town and your locality, you have to do something for yourself.

The most exciting aspect of last night’s meeting was the pride everyone had in the place and the absolute intention of not letting one more business go to the wall.

The first part of the local fightback is to try to get a few more locals to spend a bit more in the town rather than spend it elsewhere. It is not about huge gestures, just small things — like maybe a loyalty card for shopping locally. The traders told me that the town was packed during the January snow when local people couldn’t drive to the bigger shops out of the town.

If every day we could get one of these local people who normally head out to one of the big supermarkets to stay and shop locally, the difference would be incremental but enormous. All over Ireland, traders are facing the same problem. How do they stay open first and secondly how do they expand? Most of us realise these dilemmas exist but usually we expect someone else will do something and we wait. Then a shop closes and we comment on its passing but do nothing and don’t see that it is our spending power, however modest, that is the key. Then the next goes to the wall but we don’t act and on it goes until one day the knock comes to your door, the reality comes home to you and you are made redundant and guess what, no one comes to your aid.

To prevent this from happening, it is essential that communities in Ireland come together in the recession. So many towns in our country have so much to offer in terms of festivals, tourism or one-off events. This is the way communities are re-built. I saw the energy in my own home town last night. This can be repeated everywhere all over the country. This is the opportunity in this crisis, the opportunity to come together. Let’s get the ball rolling.

By the way, the hair of the young fella in Dom McClure’s barber never did go black!

  1. ToddH1

    I do see some towns doing as David described. I was in Castlecomer in Co. Kilkenny for about 3 weeks last year and they had some new shops open up in the past year. It appears that folks were not making the 20-30 minute drive in to Kilkenny as much as they may have in the past and are supporting the local shop instead.

    But I do see that it’s a hard call for folks who, everyday, have to make a choice to support the local shop that costs a bit more or the large chain store with cheaper prices.

    • In the long term, it is cheaper to support local enterprise because environmental and energy costs will continue to rise

      • HanoiJohn

        And in the long term, we are all dead – except for local business which will be dead a lot sooner, to paraphrase JM Keynes…

        The problem is that demand is being choked off as a deliberate policy of government.

        I don’t see capra-esque crusades by the cast of Ballykissangel as the solution.

      • Bamboo

        Not so sure about this Rosemarie. No matter how much I’d like to support local business as well as for environmental reasons, I find I can do all my shopping in one swoop if I go to the bigger shopping centers. There is always something that I can’t buy or find locally and I end up driving off somewhere again. Some shop keepers do ask if there is anything they should order from the whole sales but the specific items I like to buy (mostly vegetarian items) are usually quite unpopular locally so it makes no business sense to have in my local shops.

        Love your site by BTW.

        • Ruairí

          Teu Bamboo, as a vegan I have to agree with you for the most part.

          Do I do try to support locally where at all possible and I conscientiously avoid Tesco as they play games with fuel prices and also seek hello money from suppliers. Their mastery of strategy is complete but a tad too Machiavellian for my tastes.

          • Deco

            I had heard stories about fuel from Tesco causing mechanical problems. And apart from that I don’t shop in shops that persistently tell me to join clubs and collect points. I am not into this thing of large corporations having information so that they can analyze the lifestyles of the individual. My reply to retail empires who go with this sort of thing is summed up by the initials “P. F. O & M Y O B !”

            Google “Tesco Fuel” and see item number 7 on the list of automatically generated prompts :)))

            Tesco Cheap Fuel is NOT cheap fuel !!!!

          • Bamboo

            Sorry guys, there is no Tesco in my area and I don’t think i’ve ever been in one.

    • The businesses in Dalkey have been very slow to wake up to our local problems. I started a website last year before the krap really hit the fan, link below. The village needs renewal both culturally and economic. We need particularly to attract visitors – the potential is there. Example 1 of about a hundred: why is Bullock harbour do abysmally bad? It’s not managed and frankly the place stinks. It’s overlooked by one of the best preserved 12th century castles in the country which is in perfect condition and permanently closed! As for Dalkey Island…I wouldn’t know where to start.
      I had to stop my blog for personal reasons but anyway this can’t be a one person crusade…

  2. David , I am delighted to hear the business people in Dalkey doing this , I worked there my self for a period in the old tram yard and I liked the feel of the village .
    Two years ago when I took on a role for a regional newspaper I could see what was coming down the line here and I approach the Commercial /Advertising Manager of the paper to run with my idea , of , A PASSPORT TO Your Town, it would of course be a revenue stream for the paper with shops advertising in the booklet, passport.
    Simply working along the lines of a passport / loyalty card where each business within the ‘Passport ‘ would have special offers on their page and along with the offers when , You the customer went and bought in the shop you would get a stamp , then when you filled the ‘Passport’ you could send it in for a ‘major prize’ ( like a weekend away, or even a trip overseas as I stated a few shop owners would have villa’s in the sun which could be used for this promotion)
    But alas because of the heads been buried in the sand the bluffer of an Advertising Manager didn’t want to run with this idea and as for the narrow mindness of the chamber of commerce , I was not allowed via the paper to run with this concept ( as ‘They’ just couldn’t see what was coming )
    Now The Recession is Really here , we have to do something other wise as you have said above we will have towns and villages ending up like in the U.K. ,
    I for one don’t want to see this happen.
    Maybe this week I will approach a few shop keepers in my own town here in the south east and see how they react to this ‘Passport’ idea now two years into this horrible recession….
    Good Article David and THANK YOU

  3. You know what Dalkey business is successful? Mugs.
    You know why?
    They ungrudgingly offer a good service and they open as often as possible.

    Dalkey has always had a high turn over in local businesses as people start ventures that are doomed to failure.
    (i.e. that light-blue ‘gift shop’ that opened beside the Pet Shop and went out of business before I got around to going in)
    I’d like you to be more specific about your 10 businesses.


  4. G

    As the opening paragraphs suggest, this is more about a nostalgic trip down memory road…..

    Seems impossible to wind back the clock……….indigenous/family/cottage industries are the way to go, but government/EU/Western policy is dead set against it as there are no back handers or jobs in the private sector when you lose your seat!! Agriculture is a dead loss as the EU and US are determined to be served by developing markets, but I heard Sean Sherlock talk of small food businesses, farmers markets with the possibility of export, along with a whole host of other measures which all seemed reasonable enough.

    There are a million things that can be done that aren’t being done and it strikes me it is because ‘policy’ (Big Brother) dictates the play.

    I take your point on tourism and cultural events, some of which has also been hijacked by the insiders (a Dub was brought down to run Cork’s City of Culture 2005 – it made virtually no impression and there has been no spin off from it).

    We are also way too expensive for tourists, a car hire alone would get you a holiday in the sun for a week, we shot ourselves in the foot, people were saying it but no one was listening, a bit like the bankers!!!

    Some positive things in the article, I am not shooting the messenger, throw enough stuff at the wall and some may stick……….but I think we need to know what we are dealing with, government is being directed by the neoliberals, business run society, so yes, the people will have to take matters into their own hands, expect no assistance or grants from government, you’re going to have to do it the hard way.

    I still maintain the co-operative model should be looked at, people coming together in local areas to start something with full industrial democracy and profit-sharing.

    • Bamboo

      Exactly, co-operative model is the way to go.

      • Malcolm McClure

        G: Agreed, co-operative partnership is the way to go. Alastair Darling in his budget today offered one-year cut for business rates and gave tax holidays for startups. Given those advantages, if the owners of shut-up shops could be persuaded to roll up the rent for a few months in exchange for weekly access to the accounts, then a tryout shop could start on a shoestring.

        Set up a Twitter net for where to find best bargains to sell on.
        @Heinz beans 410g better than 35c ? Anyone?
        Etc Etc.

        • Ruairí

          Well said Malcolm.

          Noted the budget promises also.
          “and gave tax holidays for startups”

          Padraig O’Ceidigh, CEO of Aer Arann, stated something magnificently simple along these lines on Frontline a number of weeks ago. He spoke of income tax (and employer tax) holidays for new employees for a set period also. Swap it for the social welfare bill. The key being to keep people’s career and life prospects on track, keep them working, use the state expenditure of ‘dole’ wisely; but not to offer ‘dole’ as a sop to employers as that creates two tiers of workers. Of course, that’s implying that people are PEOPLE and not economic units, not pawns in populist job creation strategies, as Colm McCarthy blinkeredly bleats. No, we’re citizens first and economic units second.

          Plus, your Twitter idea has plenty of merit. A bit like bargain alerts but per community instead. Funnily enough, the local guy is not always much dearer. The pricing strategies of the multiples give impressions of savings that don’t always bear out over the longterm. And especially not when one realises that once they have the community landscape ‘mopped’ up, they revert to fleecing .Just check the fuel pricing strategy here or in the UK. People have only themselves to blame; we know that instinctively but I think David’s article is a call to arms. A line in the sand. A recognition of the social power we all wield and give away on a daily basis.

          • wills

            too right ruairi, the one thing the market riggers cannot rig out of each of us is ‘implied consent’ to their codology and scamarama wealth destruction.

    • Deco

      you mentioned
      “a Dub was brought down to run Cork’s City of Culture “.
      And then you indicate that he was an insider that he was totally useless.

      Sounds like a member of the Drumcondra Dirty Dozen. We have one running CIE. And we have one running Dublin Port.

      They got loads of state jobs because as Ahern said “I didn’t appoint them to state jobs because they gave money, I appointed tthem to state boards…because they are me freinds”. (it just shows you how Ahern defines improper appointment procedures).

      • G

        Deco – I don’t know if he was an insider, I just know what happened as I watched the situation closely in 2005.

        No major impact on the populatiom, no spin off, I remember the Capital of Culture kicked off in January, but they only had a ‘drop-in office’ on Patrick street opened in April or May, it was well into the year in any case. crazy but no doubt there are ‘excuses’ but no good reasons as Mark Twain would say,

        There was a firework display at the end big deal. I went to one event (albeit on a wet night), there was about 150 people standing in Washington street outside the Court House trying to make out a play that was being projected onto the columns, most Cork people walked past indifferently for the pub.

        Nothing came out of it, maybe a few curious European tourists popped in, but there was no foundation for something sustainable.

        No offence to the man running the show, but it seemed a little incongruous to ‘bring someone in’ to ‘run’ the event when there were plenty of people on the ground who were clued into the city, the cultural scene who could have reached out and brought in Northside and Southside communities.

        I had the distinct impression it never got outside of the ‘art’ click, which is tiny in Cork. I thought it was a serious opportunity lost, and I wasn’t the only one who said so at the time. I heard the city council had been rubbed up the wrong way, business was slow to get behind it, Owen O’Callaghan to his credit had his building used for a photo exhibition on the issue of camps in the central african republics, which was very interesting.

        Maybe I expect too much, possibly a fair criticism.

        Art, culture and education are major areas which should be developed, the School of Music building in Cork is extremely impressive, we just need someone with talent to tie it together and develop it internationally.

        The Guinness Jazz festival in October can be pretty impressive, I think this is the road we should follow. We need a concert venue like the O2 (again wranglings and money seemed to have snookered that effort).

        I think there is a lot of untapped potential. I also think landlords who do not maintain (paint, fix up etc) their properties should be pursued rigorously through the courts.

        Barrack street for example has a ton of heritage, there is a 17th century Elizabethan fort (with a coal selling business attached to its 400 year old walls!!!!!), Daniel Florence O’Leary’s house (he was Simon Bolivar’s right hand man, when the Venezuelan authorities showed up to put a plaque on his house, no one know who the hell he was!!), there is the excellent Barry’s pub, all on one street, yet there are properties in complete disrepair and footpaths and roads in a terrible state.

        If we want to attract tourists, and international students we have to get the dog s**t cleaned up and the most basic stuff done, but we seem to piss our heritage away, we can be quite feckless as a people, and it is most frustrating, for all it needs is a lick of paint, a few hanging baskets and a bit of imagination.

        There is a city councillor, Mick Finn, who is trying to make a difference, to his eternal credit, he has vision and is willing to do the donkey work, to drag the rest up the hill!

        We work against ourselves, it is both humilating and embarrassing, what city wouldn’t give their left arm for such history and all on one small street. But it remains, underdeveloped and neglected. Shameful.

        Exasperated G.!!!!!

        • G

          I should also add, the people involved were probably very good at what they did, and tried their level best to get things off the ground, they could have ran into politics and all kinds of issues, I am speculating, situations are complex, especially as something as big as that, the city failed to capitalise on it for whatever reason, we didn’t push things on internationally and little to no play is made of it, unlike say Lille and under cities who promote themselves in that light and seem to have pushed the boat on. I know from my own dealings with clubs and groups just how hard it can be to pull people together especially when people resist or don’t want to go with the ‘big idea’, it is far from an exact science.

          But David is talking of entrepreneurialism, outside the box thinking, developing things locally – all good stuff, but there seems to be a block, especially on the government end of things – the willingness to take a risk just isn’t there, at least that is my perception.

  5. SarahB

    Here’s an example of a great ‘local business’ taking initiative to fight their corner – this guy was sampling sausages in a traffic jam one Friday morning recently, I had to go back & take a look! Great attitude, very progressive, incredible focus on ‘what the customer wants’. It certainly gave me some confidence that that ‘spirit’ exists to fight to retain local business.

  6. Sorrento Way – I think we should all leave the rustic plain aoulde Ireland and flee from the indiginous tribes and gangstas and ‘aquire’ a cottage in Dalkey and write and sell internet books for a living .Philosophers do not cut their hair regularly but enough of us would keep aoulde Dom in good business for a long time.And in our spare time we can buy a rod and fish our way to the table.

  7. mcsean2163

    “Over the years, people have moved into Dalkey because of its special atmosphere, because it is a living and working town with a community at its core. ”

    I wouldn’t mind moving to Dalkey either as one of the most expensive suburbs, close to the sea & Bono as my neighbour. I’ll have to dig out that million I left in the back of the sofa.

    In fairness, I think the real reason these businesses fail is that both people work in most families and that means they don’t have the time to go to the butchers, grocers, etc. as it’s quicker to get it all done in the supermarket. The butcher is cheaper and better but even if we did decide to got to them most businesses of this nature close around 6.

    Maybe if the opened later as everyone is in work and closed later, they might get more custom?

  8. ste

    While I agree with most of what David is saying I find it a little difficult to accept that all small, local businesses deserve support.
    Coming from Carrick on Shannon which boomed in the tiger era I saw many local businesses bask in the good times and refuse to give back to their communities. The biggest example of this was our June bank holiday festival, for years supported by local businesses it brought in thousands of people over the weekend with the highlight being a fireworks display on the Sunday night. I grew up with this every June and it was a great weekend but it has been many years now since the businesses decided they didn’t want to contribute money and therefore the festival fell apart, despite the efforts of a few.
    Over the past year or two in Carrick on Shannon the community and businesses have been decimated by recession, floods and a very difficult winter. Should I now be asked to support particular businesses who have given nothing back when asked during the boom (and they were asked)?
    Small town Ireland relies on communities and I think that although some lessons might be harsh they are deserved, and more importantly needed. Now someone tell that to the government and the banks.

    • Ruairí


      not all of the existing businesses are required. There will be and should be natural die-off in a recession, in my opinion. We have too many coffee shops, too many pubs, too many retail outlets (based on the leveraged nature of the capital running them).

      And this is the core problem: – Not that we have too many of any particular niche of local supplier but rather that a 10% reduction or God forbid a 40% reduction in trade is sufficient to close these guys? Why? Rent overheads, not wages despite what SFA rabbit on about. The over-supply of easy credit means an oversupply of suppliers. Natural selection would of course mean that the weakest ones (in terms of capital and buyer popularity) would fall. And the local town jungle would return to balance.

      But not now. Now we have NAMA. And NAMA is not just keeping hotels and destination spas open. Its also keeping many retail outlets open. Landlords who would have been under the cosh from banks and therefore placing tenants under the cosh are simply not doing so as quickly and effectively as a free market might dictate. And so, good businesses are now in danger also as there simply isn’t enough ‘wonga’ to go around. The cycle has turned naturally (long overdue) to saving and deferred spending. Rather than a sharp, short correction though, we have this festering uncertainty and a wish for halcyon property days.
      To me, David’s article isn’t calling for every business to be saved but rather for consumers to become aware of 1. their social power in deciding the retail landscape of their community and 2. their social obligation (underpinned by economic self-interest) in spending a little more locally where possible in order to keep the ‘dogs’ from their own door, work or private.
      Of course, none of this is practical without a ‘scheme’, a bonus / point system much as BrendanW points out and one that is bigger than the Chambers of Commerce as, though they represent many, they don’t represent all in a de facto way. But without a properly thought out incentivised scheme, the economic buying decisions of the public may be based on the delusions / ads / brainwashing / NLP that Deco so often points to the underhanded nature of.

      We all have social power. We all decide daily what our world will be.

      Great article David. Pushing for personal responsibility and togetherness in deciding which businesses WE allow to thrive and which ones WE decide are past their sell by date.

      No mercy when deciding between innocent and guilty parties. There ain’t enough room on the lifeboat.

  9. AndrewGMooney

    David, that’s splendid writing. WordPress. Wordsmith. Writing as craft. ‘An Irish Childhood In Dalkey’!

    I don’t see any nostalgia in respectfully mourning what has been lost and, in grieving that loss, looking optimistically towards how to re-shape, re-fashion the future.

    There is nothing more depressing than historic town facades that host nothing more than upscale ‘antiques’, boutiques or downmarket charity shops competing with High St marketeers. Sadly, there are so many ‘drivers’ that are directing traffic to the new retail parks ‘going forward’, etc.
    Exhausted commuters, having escaped the ever extending tentacles of the Metropolis, simply don’t have the time or energy to get the weekly / montly shopping in via individuals stores. And then there’s parking. Or negligent public transport nodes.

    The future of small town centres seems to lie in ‘shopping as experience’ rather than compete on cost. You can’t compete with and its’ ‘instant shopping list’ from previous visits delivered to your door. I think it will be a revival of local arts and ‘cafe culture’ that will be key, and ‘local currencies’ can be added to the loyalty card.

    I’m writing this whilst monitoring the UK budget on audio. Suddenly I’m interrupted by a Madeleine Memory of walking through Durrow with my Dad. It’s the late 60′s. Dad tells me this is ‘home’. Dad’s long gone now. The 50s ‘volunteered’ him to England. It’s all very sad to see the cycle repeat. That’s why I don’t really comment on the funereal news from Ireland. But this is good stuff. David says it’s time to begin The Wake!

    • ThomasFergus

      That’s a lovely evocation from your good self Andrew….Until I went to a function in Castle Durrow recently my only acquaintance with the place has been a stopover in the Copper Kettle for burgers and chips on the way home to Cork from Croke Park…..ah the nostalgia!

      My brother, a recent graduate in the discipline of physiotherapy, has also been “volunteered” to England after 8 months on the dole here. In spite of enormous investment by the Irish State in his education, the Irish government has decided that it is her majesty’s health service that will benefit from his skills. (We couldn’t overburden our “bloated” public sector with his skills and wages, so we’ll just leave people to rot instead!)

      He and 60,000 others have left in the last 12 months. Cowen and the establishment have made the calculation that if they hang on to office for another 2.5 years, that’s almost 200,000 angry voters who will have been kicked out and who cannot take their anger out on the same establishment. The rest of us can get angry with passport office public sector go slows, head shops and gay civil marriages, while the establishment robs us, our children and our children’s children.

      Funny how two elements of Irish society have remained constant since the Famine and the rise of the Irish Parliamentary Party:
      1. Deflationary economics.
      2. Tammany Hall politics.

      I’m losing faith in democracy every day now…

      • Ruairí

        “e and 60,000 others have left in the last 12 months. Cowen and the establishment have made the calculation that if they hang on to office for another 2.5 years, that’s almost 200,000 angry voters who will have been kicked out and who cannot take their anger out on the same establishment.”

        @ ThomasFergus We should be pushing the goodie two shoe greens to 1. enable Irish citizen voting from around the world and 2. ensuring that if/ when a general election is called, that EVERYTHING possible is done online through social networking to ensure that students amend their voting details to ensure they can cast their vote wherever they may be. That shoudl be the key job of any opposition, particulalry in this unique time of monumental blame by the incumbent party: – PD-infected FF.

        The Greens, despite quaking in their boots at their own electorate, should have nothing to fear from a young student voice who will prefer incompetent green to incompetent gombeen.

        In the old days, God bless them, sinn Fein used to drive old folk around to vote for them. I wish some opposition party would SEIZE the day and enlist the cause of the disenfranchised Irish citizens, both those forced abroad and those studying at home.
        The insiders have guile. It will take organisation, speed and gritty determination to pull a fast move on their kind.

      • Deco

        ThomasFergus – sorry to hear that your brother has to work in England. This is more of the ripping up of community. Except this is ripping up community and family.

      • Deco

        TF – you left out item 3 on the list.

        3. The gombeen/middleman/insider/speculator/dealer/coverup/conman.
        4. The dishonest powerbroker/official/bureacrat/cleric who won’t dirty his hands with real work, and who seeks to get an easy existence at the expense of somebody else.

  10. DarraghD

    I was out in my local pub last Saturday night and we were just having a conversation about this very topic, however one thing that we more or less agreed upon from the outset was that price consideration from a consumer perspective is actually not the primary motivator when it comes to where to purchase.

    We could all point to very recent experiences of rude staff in local shops. Funnily enough, even the pub we were sitting in as we spoke, a pub we have been socialising in for many years, we all got the feeling that there was no genuine appreciation of our custom, not one person behind the bar knew one of our names, your change was more or less thrown back at you with an almost barely veiled hostile attitude.

    The madness of this is that how much would it cost a bar manager or business owner to maybe spend a few minutes talking to regular customers in an evening, getting a handle for how the business is performing in terms of customer satisfaction, and then going back to staff with a view to improving the customer experience???

    Funnily, you go north of the border and you run into a totally different attitude, a pleasant and business like manner from staff that you tend to remember…

    I feel that if some Irish local businesses are closing, well maybe it’s not all down to the fact that Tesco is just up the road, many have lost the notion of how to treat the customer and retain their goodwill and their custom, and this is before we even start a conversation on competitiveness and prices, higher commercial rates, higher labour costs, etc.

    We ended the conversation on this topic the other night by agreeing on one thing, which was that each and every one of us would be happy to part with a few extra shilings to keep a decent and friendly local business operator trading, but where you get a negative attitude and poor customer service, then the business probably deserves to be put out of business or put another way, we should certainly not be delaying the day where the business stops trading…

    • Bamboo

      DarraghD, I think I know exactly what you mean. I am glad you brought up this issue and you are absolutely right. G, you brought this up as well in an earlier post as but there was not much feedback. (except from me think) It is that friendliness that is rapidly disappearing as our society is loosing sight. We have become almost immune to this unfriendly attitude. Just ask any tourist and they will tell you.

      Now, I am not trying to glorify Portugal but this is what happened to me and my friends on a little trip to Portugal recently.

      We were high in the mountains in a small village restaurant/café. We were looking for something to eat and the owner said he had made a soup. We asked what sort of a soup it was and he took out the whole pot and one spoon for us to taste it. If we liked it we can have that. We all had a taste and it was a a lovely soup. Then he pealed some potatoes and made us some chips and a salad. When it came to the bill he said the soup was free as he was making it for his family anyway and he had plenty. I remember this type of scenes in Ireland many many years ago and haven’t come across anything like that anymore. Someone running a café like that here in Ireland would have been told to close his/her business.

      I know this, as one of my friends had such a business and although she complied to all regulations, she was told by the authorities to close down her business. She had frequent visits from the gardai, the fire brigade and the health inspection. The gardai and fire brigade in particular came out in full gear in the evenings. Especially on a Friday or Saturday night when she had some business going. The gardai said they received a tip-off there was some drug dealing and started smelling the food that was served. I am not sure why the fire brigade had to come out for this reason.

      She the gave up everything in the end and can only conclude that local publicans didn’t like her café. She was only trying to make a living like anybody else.

      The small businesses have to compete with the bigger outlets exactly like the American models. It is only during the boom years that copies of this American model are sprouting all over the place. These outlets are usually indoors so weather conditions doesn’t play a role in shopping habits. I don’t know how anyone can compete with these outlets unless there is some sort of national regulation put in place. But as long as the big bully boys are part of our society this only gets worse. One way or the other, small businesses will go down and the economic crisis is only speeding things up.

    • Ruairí

      +1 DarraghD. There are a lot of businesses that are simply there because people were flathuileach. Not because they were the best at what they did. In fact, as you say, some of them were obnoxiously rude to those who put meals on their tables.

      ps Padraig ‘Ceidigh of Aer Arann was a teacher!! Loads of good, sharp teachers and ex teachers out there. The biggest problem with Batt O’Keeffe is this: –

      “A support group for mental health patients in north Cork acquired a house in an estate in Charleville to be used as a transition centre for people coming out of psychiatric hospitals, to help them make the change to ordinary living.

      The residents of the estate conducted a persistent campaign against this support group, and picketed the house, much to the distress of the few mental health patients who came to stay briefly. Eventually, the house had to be closed down because of this local opposition.

      This all took place in 2006, just around the time O’Keeffe was ingratiating himself with the electorate of Cork North East, where he was to stand in the 2007 election, leaving his old constituency of North South Central.

      One of the ingratiating ploys was to support the people who were driving the mental health patients out of the transition home in Charleville. He sent them local council documentation to assist them in having the home closed down.

      For that, O’Keeffe deserves to be reshuffled out of the cabinet and out of politics – but that won’t happen because, for all the gab about protecting the vulnerable, they couldn’t care less. (I wrote about all this in 2006 and 2007, and invited O’Keeffe to give his side of the story, but he was too busy to bother replying.)”

      DIRT BIRD.


    Bottom line, you cannot beat Asda Enniskillen.Many small traders became very wealthy screwing people , charging top $ for mediocre product.Survival of the fittest!.

  12. DarraghD

    I meant to say, did anyone hear Ben Dunne on Newstalk this afternoon??? He hit the nail on the head, the real economy is close to collapsing altogether, such is the entrenchment of consumers in relation to spending… He reckons we are being lied to when we are being told by the government that there is a fragile recovery underway, he says the situation is getting worse and worse and the end is more or less nigh…

    • ste

      With respect to Ben Dunne he is a little bit out of touch with modern Ireland. Have you ever had a look at or for that matter heard one of his crazy adverts. In his mind the economy is only built of pies he has his fingers in. I’d take anything he says with a pinch of salt.

    • G

      They are just trying to bluff the market, only card left in the pack, but impossible to bluff, numbers speak for themselves (unemployment being one of the principle indicators – shows economy is tanking) but still they try and put out the statements and smile.

      The game is up.

      They are also trying to bluff the population, more successful in that regard because people want to believe.

      Save what you can and stock up on tinned food.

      • G- tinned food is a luxery to think about .I am thinking about visiting my local asian food shop and stock up on a variety of rice in sacks .At least this is fresh .Then I am thinking of removing the dogs from their penns and place in them my ‘free walking chickens’ fed with leftovers.I will learn to chat up a few butchers and spread my purchase because each of them will give me some bones and the sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.That should give me some soup in case I need it.
        I will visit the local bog in july and stock up with dried turf and buy a few empty sand bags in case we have another flood again .I will tap into my local spring water well to give me a choice .Gone will be the Setanta and Chorus and maybe hold onto SKy .And I am not voting those buggers again if their is an early election.Perhaps get the local committee form a new Republic covering the area with access to the sea. If I dont stop thinking I dont know where this idea will stop.

    • Dilly

      Bertie would call him a cribber and a moaner. But, unfortunately this is reality. People do not like reality, they prefer Hello magazine, X Factor, Oprah, and walking off into a Hollywood sunset with the girl. Things are pretty grim out there. but hey, we had plenty of warnings during the last decade. The collapse may at least bring change ?. I live in hope.


    Full time employment fell by 200k in 2009, in the eighties the figure for the entire decade was 120k,albeit from a lower base.Shows the level of the catastrophe facing many.

  14. The Eye

    We are about to break Japans world property crash record of 50% off the top, now think Japan and now think Cowen and Co ……….now think Titanic.

  15. ps200306

    David, what a blast from the past ! The 70s must have been a different hair experience for someone whose main challenge was colour. For me, it was the fact that the “in” style of the time called for long hair and side burns, but growing up impoverished in Dalkey meant that all haircuts were “Dom McClure specials”, consisting of a 1950s crew cut. That combined with hand-me-down clothes meant you were turning up in school with garish-coloured bellbottoms and a shaved head … looking like some tragic glam rocker who’d been set upon by an Indian war party.

    I agree with ANkh above — Dalkey business often set up to appeal to a perceived local yuppy business which most often never materialised. Clearly the local yuppies didn’t shop locally enough because it was common for businesses to survive only a few months. Meanwhile, the yuppies must have crowded out too many of the “working class” because even down-to-earth shops like “Gemmas” which survived many decades did eventually fold. Not difficult to see why either — if I remember right, Dom McClure lived up the hill in Glenalua terrace … even the post-crash asking price for an ex-corpo two-bed there is over 600k !!! Dalkey prices in general went up by more than a factor of ten from the early 1990s.

  16. Comment from Machholz
    Living in Wicklow town
    What your are describing is the same here, only the traders people seem to have given up
    Apart from the few eastern block people that seem to give it a go every so often nothing is storing here
    The local political top dogs seem to not give a dam
    And I am sorry to say that any new shops that open last only 3-4 months
    People here seem to just accept the slow death of the town
    What a shame!
    See my posting on

  17. jackie

    The problem with Dalkey is the car-parking charges. The church car park used to be always full so all those people are now somewhere else. It really puts you off if you are watching the clock to see if you risk being clamped.
    Also people do not always have coins with them and because it’s pay and display you end up putting too much in just in case and then feel annoyed at wasting your money.
    It’s easier to go somewhere where parking is free.

  18. Eze – Dalkey – I am often in Eze ( cote d’azur ) and the same feel of Dalkey prevails around and likely to remain .There is only one shop left in Eze and Bono is one of their customers.

  19. paddyjones

    The people of Dalkey are a completely different kettle of fish to the rest of us. They are mobile, is the main reason for the fall off in business, they prefer to go where there is free parking for their large cars.
    But for the rest of us its the economy thats the problem. Deflation has set in, I was in Dingle last weekend and the B&B was 65 euro for a double and a pint was 4.50 …..ridiculous. Prices have to fall before we start spending, I know that I won’t be going back to Dingle anytime soon.

    • Bamboo

      Not so long ago some of my colleagues went to Edinburgh for some concert. Don’t know anymore which concert it was but the same concert was held in Dublin as well the week after. They said it was cheaper to fly out to Edinburgh than to go to Dublin.

      • paddyjones

        A 1 bed apartment anywhere in Germany will set you back about 60k, in Dublin it costs 125k( Tallaght). Something has got to give, deflation will be a part of our economy for years to come. Prices are too high troughout the country , as incomes have fallen and will continue to fall retailers will have to cut their cloth to suit.

        • Bamboo

          Exactly paddyjones,
          apart from the price you have to add the quality of services and available amenities in the area. I’ve never been in Tallaght before But I think there would be a difference.

        • ThomasFergus

          Property prices need to collapse, rent needs to collapse, banks need to collapse.
          Let the Irish banks do a deal with their creditors, let the landlords do a deal with their banks, let the tenants do a deal with their landlords, let mortgage holders do a deal with their banks. Wages don’t need to be cut any more.

          If this happens, we might be able to start again. AS long as the zombie banks are kept afloat, they can screw mortgage holders and keep landlords stringing along who can screw their tenants and nothing is produced for the real economy. How long can this protection last? How long more can these charlatans and their cheerleaders in the media get out of the public sector/private sector wheeze?

          • Bamboo


            Fully agree with you.
            But unfortunately the GOV’s trick is to start at the bottom. Let the lowest income earners suffer first as that is the biggest headache, then the middle income earners. And then and only then, when every last drop of blood is squeezed out of these groups the higher income earners, banks and “what have ye” are targeted. But it will not come as far as the high income earners as they would have flown out the country by then.
            Look at all the dictatorial places in South America, Asia and Africa. The people there have a high watch tower, they see the trouble coming and only when it gets too hot, they scamper off to play somewhere else.

        • ps200306

          At the other end of the price spectrum, I know one area in the outer suburbs of Aachen — 700k gets you a new 3-storey + basement, 8-bedroom, 5,000-square-ft house on a 1/2 acre.

          • ps200306

            And was chatting to someone from South Africa recently — in the East Rand (the nice area east of Johannesburg / Pretoria) this 3-bed 2-bath 2-garage house for 120k would be considered expensive. If you look further afield in the same area you’d find 4-bed with swimming pool for the same price.

            What has gone wrong with Irish people’s heads that we think our prices could ever have been realistic / justifiable. We live in one of the most under-populated / empty countries in Europe for God’s sake.

          • paddyjones

            Check out use translate to see the prices and Germany is one of the world strongest economies!

  20. wills

    @Paddy Jones, Bamboo, Thomas ferguson.


    • wills

      Pricing in Ireland is screwed up.

      Pricing in ireland is rigged rigged rigged.

      Pricing in ireland is squeezing the life blood and life force out of the real economy out of the society and sending the wealth right to the top of the rigged market economy peking order.

      A wise man once said…………..

      ‘Prices are important not because money is paramount but because prices are fast and effective conveyor of info through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.’

      And when the price mechanisms are hijacked and rigged and the prices are oligopolistic prices and gouging prices and rip of republic prices this function of pricing in the quote above starts to fail and like woodworm the system starts to rot and crumble and collapse.

      And no matter how much gov policy flutters around with NAMA and department name changing and reconfiguration and cabinet drinks reshuffling and switching dep of enterprise for dep of innovation focusing on high tech jobs and sidelining basic cost structures and utility costs the destructive effect of price mechanism sabotage will finally catch up and like termites eating through a wooden house crumble the econ system into a one trick pony.

  21. Lads,
    I lived in Germany in the mid 70′s to mid 80’s
    I shared a house with the landlord for a rent then of approx 150Euro
    To-day I could buy that house for about 155 k euro
    The town is Lubeck and Ryanair fly there every day for about 25 euro
    The house has 4 bedrooms a garage and is detached 10 mins from town centre and bus stop right outside the door
    The house is about 10 mins away from the local airport and 45 mins train journey from Hamburg city centre
    area similar to Blackrock in Dublin.
    Yes lads,
    we need to have another 50% drop in House prices ,and that’s before you start looking at new taxes the crooks in the Dail intended to put on every house in the country soon.

  22. paulmcd

    Extract from Darling’s Budget Statement, Today

    The 50 per cent rate of income tax will come in next month, but only affects those with earnings over £150,000 a year, the top 1 per cent of earners.

    For people with incomes over £100,000 a year, the top 2 per cent, we will gradually remove the value of their personal allowances.

    Tax relief on pensions will be restricted from next year, but again only for those with incomes above £130,000 a year.

    • Deco

      I wonder will the 50% that be levied on Stephen Byers, for his ‘cab’ business ? “You hire me(as your lobbyist), like you hire a cab”. Going rate 3000 – 5000 pounds per day.

      Chances are no, because it was undeclared income.

  23. roc

    I think a good idea at this stage would be to set up and promote LOCAL COMMUNITY BASED CURRENCIES.

    While the big economy collapses, we should be creating community based micro-economies that can grow while the old one collapses.

    This could comprise the basis of a new order.

  24. Philip

    A few of you have described the rigged nature of the pricing in this country and the nonsensical nature of the price differentials between ourselves and other more power economies. To be fair to local businesses, many of the input costs can only be squeezed to so low a level. Rates, Power, Water and then the employment charges and then Audits:Health and Safety, Financial…and the legals. And all this before you start trading.

    Having traders band together and form their own micro economies will not work unless you can band together to negotiate with the “authorities” etc. and bring input costs down. Having a coupon system, loyalty card system merely sacrifices margin to get footfall that may never be enough anyway.

    The only way communities can survive is to form their own local authorities. We need a loyalty card system where services are only given to those who act for the community and have no part to play rigging the system. Communities must be prepared to boycott our formal authorities and keep them out in the cold. Surrender no further income statements, cannot tax zero income…form an alternative currency and look after ourselves…Of course this is daft…the organisational logistics makes this unfeasible.

    We really are in dire need of a dispute escalation to crack this goverment apart before they wreck the place altogether.

  25. Deco

    David – a very salient article for us all. Our sense of community is dying. It has been dying since Liam Lawlor or whoever it was got planning permission for Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. The Omniplex, happy motoring culture that has been derided by Kunstler has been swallowed by Ireland.

    This reminds me of the great American classic “It’s a wonderful life”. It was about banking finance, hard work, and ordinary people trying to live honourable lives. A bit like what we have all be trying to do in this country, but which we have been prevented from doing because the gombeen element in our society has run everything and rigged everything against us.

    You are not alone in questioning what is happening to our sense of community. Here is an article from an American commentator, concerning the replacement of community with superficial trash culture.

    This is what we are becomming. Maybe we should rename Lucan as Lawlorville, or Swords as Rambotown.

    There is more than our economy at stake. Our entire civilization is in trouble. The population has been sold a pup repeatedly. As the saying goes in the film, “50c on the dollar”. We get compromised.

    There is a way out. It was to be extremely coy with regard to saving and deploying your resources, and doing it on the basis of conscience.

    But conscience was a target for eradication a long time ago. Every powerful entitiy from the Bishops, to th politicians, to the bankers, the speculators, the media, the advertising sector, British branch stores, the banks, the lobbyists, the unions, the speculators, and so on, has had as an objective the intellectual and moral control of the masses, so as to acheive their aim – to systematically extort economic gain.

    And we have to ask ourselves – was it really worhwhile seeing the death of Dalkey so that Dundrum Shopping Centre could run play stupid music into our ears, or so that people would eat from fast food joints instead of eating a regular meal ?

    We should have listened to Kunstler. Instead we listened to shite from RTE.

    • Dalkey sur Paris –

      Paris is made up of many small villages all woven together and each with their own mayor who is responsible for what happens .We need to revisit our planning laws and make amendments.

      • G

        Excellent suggestion, and spot on about Paris………now that would be a city worth emulating (and connecting with) in terms of civic pride and building maintenance, development of historical monuments, promenades along the river – the precedent is there……I accept the suburbs are a powder keg though, all that glitters and shines etc…………..

    • AndrewGMooney

      Deco, hope you caught Alastair sticking it to Cameron. Balls deep. Hilarious. Hardly Belize-able. You couldn’t make it up! Here’s a link that you may enjoy. NB: I do not endorse ‘The Burning Platform’. I’m not really a guns’n'gold type of guy, other than Sept 08. But this has a lot of salient points which develop your theme. Trust you and yours are all well. Remember, I told yez all about Deflation: Careful what you wish for, ‘here be monsters’….the map is not the territory. Etc. I recall DMcW’s ‘intervened’ to quell the kerfuffle and I got banned temporarily for sh1t-stirring, causing chaos. As usual….

      It’s going to get worse. Much worse. Angela Merkel-worse. Unless someone steps in. Probbly Alastair Darling’s on a plane to Athens right now to read the ‘USuk IMF’ riot act to ‘the little people’ on behalf of their stooge, Angela. In fact, I know he is cuz he and Lord Mandelstien are txt-in me like crazy asking for some more ‘blue-sky thinking’. Easy peasy:

      ‘Transpose the ‘national stigmata’ from Eurocoinage to Euronotes. Restore the dignity of the Euro to the host nation. ‘ texts Mooney…….. Alastairs’ just replied: ‘Mooney:WTF?!’ lol :-) bedtime. sleepybyes. Here’s a lullaby, a missive from the Massive Attack!, vocal by William Wilberforce, the man who saved the slave(ry) nation.

      “Its getting colder outside, your rented space
      They shadow box and they, paper chase
      It never stops, and we’ll never learn
      No hope without dope, the jobless return
      The bankers have bailed, the mighty retreat
      The pleasure it fails, at the end of the week
      You take it or leave, or what you receive”

      I sometimes drive from The Shire down to The Severn Bridges, wondering in awe at the twin peaks of Bristol and Irish Cardiff. The real ‘Ireland’ left the building long ago and far away. But maybe Dublin will be the new Bristol. In fact….that’s a definite. Peonage in a post-modern pose. NAMA. Etc.

  26. Dalkey is a great place to live and work – and the fresh food shops here along with the market on Fridays in the Town Hall are reason enough to shop here.
    Our business attracts a lot of visitors from outside Dalkey and it gives me great pleasure to recommend the great cafes, restaurants and pubs to our visitors. There’s a perfect place for everyone from people with little kids to couples looking for an intimate dinner.
    Pay and display has saved our business – before it the whole town was just one large DART carpark with nowhere for customers to park. Now, you can park for as little as 20 cent for a short visit. There is NO CLAMPING in the town – just in the DART Station car park where is costs a mere €2 to park for 24hours. How can anyone complain about that?
    I am a relative newcomer to Dalkey, only 12 years, but the place does have something very special now – it’s not just David’s nostalgia, even a blow in like me can see and feel it.
    It was great to see the old dispensary become a retail space and I was sorry to see Starbucks or any shop close. We have two lovely florists, a pet shop, Handworks is brilliant for gifts and arty things for the kids. The Exchange Bookshop will renew your faith in people and The Country Bake regularly has queues out the door at lunchtime. Killiney Castle is a real hotel, with values and service – and according to our au pair, some great deals at the moment! Dalkey Arts became such a lovely presence over the past years and it is sad to think it might close. I could list so many places that make this place special and yes, this is repeated in towns and villages all over Ireland.
    I hope that we can persuade both locals and visitors of the value of placing some business in Dalkey – not to prop up anyone who doesn’t earn or deserve it, but because there is a genuine experience to be had in this town for very good value – and you can’t always pt a price on that.

    • ps200306

      That sounded like an ad for a shopping centre.

      What about fishing in Coliemore, trips to the island, walks up “the flags” to the quarry, adventures down “the metals”, and scenic views from Sorrento?

      Not commercial enough?

    • G

      Chamber of Commerce by any chance :-)

      • No, no organization, no agenda. But the topic was about maintaining the heart of the town. I also walk my dog – the flags, the metals – everywhere, go on trips to the island, and just enjoy the area I live in. But this ‘topic’ is keeping the town alive – and don’t think boarded up shops is a prospect I relish as a shop owner or as a resident.

    • jackie

      I grew up in Dalkey over 50 years ago and live only a mile away now. It’s all very well for you to say there is no clamping in the town..but how are visitors (or natives!) to know that?
      The FEAR of being clamped is considerable and I don’t think you’d get much shopping done in 20 mins!
      I always put 2 euro in the church carpark machine being ever fearful of a fine. The traffic wardens are very much in evidence in Dalkey. And several of the shopkeepers have warned me that they are very diligent in their work!!

  27. Tim

    David, I followed you “Lead” over two years ago and have been doing this ever since.

    Philip has been advocating the same thing, here, for nearly as long. It works,

    If we support eachother in our communities, we can survive, regardlesss of government policies that work against us.

    Let’s keep at it!

  28. David I think your hair makes you look distinguished and didn’t know you had Scots roots. Now I know why you are not the type to
    lie down and let them walk all over us. For the uninitiated Glenfiddich is Scotch but Scottish people are Scots. I wonder what Dom meant by shocking accents but seeing as this sounds like a real mans barbers shop I can only imagine it was just a bit of craic.

    This story reminds me of a town that died. Clydebank on the banks of the river clyde was a great little town and was where the great ocean liners, the QE2 and the Queen Mary were built. In the 70s the CB Radio buffs called it Little Ireland owing to the plethora of Irish names in the town.

    After the Singer sewing machine factory, which once employed 10,000, closed the town went downhill and never recovered. The main streets in the heart of the town were razed to the ground but this is what formed the heart of the community. It had all the types of shops you mentioned regarding Dalkey. On the walls of the tenements you could even see the ricochet marks of German bullets from the time of the Blitz.

    Within a few years Clydebank had become a car park and they put in a shopping centre with all the usual UK brand names but at that time in the early 80s most people were living on egg and chips due to the obscene levels of unemployment. Things got worse over the years and now there are high levels of alcoholism and drug use. All the old values went too and things just deteriorated from there.

    This is why is important that places like Dalkey fight to save their town but what can small traders do when they are competing
    against Lidl, Tesco et al who can make an unemployed persons food
    budget stretch out for an extra day or two? I think it is honourable that people want to save their community and too many towns in Ireland have already gone downhill. Ballyshannon has lost a lot of business owing to the bypass and it is just ticking over these days. The reality however is that Beleek is only 5 mins away and you can get much more for your money.

    In this day and age many people have lost the basic skills of living and would find it hard to plan a weekly shop for one person on a budget of say €50 but it can be done quite easily if you are careful where you shop.

    My interest in economics comes from the memory of the day when tripe was served up for tea one night and my old man belted me on the lug for turning my nose up at it. He lived through the hungry 30s and told me I never knew what it was like to be hungry all the time. Since then I have always been interested in why a man can work his whole life only to one day end up on the sick and be almost destitute. This lesson stuck in the mind and it the main reason why I never got into debt or ever turned my nose up and egg and chips.

    Re red hair turning black. They say a leopard never changes its spots and maybe it is a good thing that they don’t.

    • G

      Outstanding post – brought back a lot of memories (similar experience with tripe), I think your comment

      “Since then I have always been interested in why a man can work his whole life only to one day end up on the sick and be almost destitute.”

      is a very important one, work all your life and still can’t get ahead……………..

      • Well G such a question has always been as plain to me as the nose on my face but I just kept my mouth shut all these years because people did not believe me.

        I knew many old guys in Scotland who were from Donegal and they all fought in the war and died destitute. Like the blacks in America they volunteered in great numbers to contribute to their new country but in the end it was futile as their sacrifice went unappreciated and they were usually at the end of the queue when applying for jobs.

        These guys were the salt of the earth and I have great memories of them but like Clydebank in the 1970s they have all returned to dust and it is as thougt they never existed.
        The forgotton Irish.

        However as Willie Maley said of John Thompson ‘They never die who live in the hearts of those they leave behind’.

  29. stuff4j

    I’m going home next week. Really looking forward to it, been about 3 years since I last visited. And I’m going home to find out what’s going on. I don’t know what to expect as I hear mixed stories – and most of the stories are that it’s not that gloomy.

    Last time I was at home I couldn’t believe it – people were throwing Euros around like confetti. I knew then that we were earning much more than my friends, and weren’t even close to being in the same amount of debt. Maybe it was the exchange rate at the time but I was gobsmacked. The prices (not just Dublin), the bad value for money, the poor service, the poor quality, the excesses, and the materialism OMG the place had gone mad. But the Guinness was still good.

    I’ve been in Oz about 10 years. It’s been great. No big complaints except Oz is so far removed from the rest of the world and sometimes it tries too hard. And we also have Kevin bloody Rudd turning Oz into a welfare state but I guess you can’t have everything.

    I’ve read some posts on here about the Irish in Oz. The Irish, like any nationality will do well if they are switched on, educated, have a positive attitude. I have worked with many great Irish colleagues over here. The work ethic, transferable skills and Irish charm has the potential to work wonders and the Aussies actively welcome it. Aussies have their own internal fears of the silent invasion by Chinese, Indonesians etc so the more Irish/Poms that come here the longer they will hold on to their national identity.

    Knowledge and skills are key – cannot emphasise that enough. When I see the Irish guys on the sites in Sydney CBD it almost makes me cry. 10/10 for effort but why are we competing against cheap non English speaking economic migrants for labour. Obviously not everyone is right for higher education but the Irish government should make it easier and actively encourage it. I’m not close to the detail at home – maybe we are in too much debt to do this – embarrassed by the mis-management during the boom years.

    Anyways bugger it – I’m going for a surf. See y’all soon – I will be observing over the next few weeks so put a smile on your face :-0

  30. Dalkey Soleil – the sun rises in the sea in front of Dalkey every morning bringing with it messages from Ukraine and Moscow and Tokyo and in the evening the same sun falls in front of Dun Aengus sending NAMAtised news made by man and nature to New York and Washington of slavery from the green republic

  31. Full Moon – Go Slow NOW .
    Much will happen because full moon is on Monday .

  32. Incident

    Another once quaint suburb of Dublin is also in the news again.

    The autonomous suburb known as the Docklands. The former glass bottle site purchased for €400 million and now worth nothing.

    The barber(The Dublin Docklands Authority), the grocer (Bernard McNamara) and the draper (Davys Private Clients) were part of the community and this was where people came to chat and keep up-to-date with what was going on in the town and make a few million on the side. A few doors up from the barber – which is no longer thriving – NAMA has a bailout shop which has one fatal flaw as a business: it doesn’t like asking these people for money. NAMA will go bust in the 2015s, bequeathing us and generations to come a life-long affinity with struggling.

    Hometown backlash! What will it take to get the revolution ball rolling?

  33. Today the indo reports on industrial action at the passport office and at the dept of social; welfare which could affect thousands of benefit payments. They combine the passport dispute and the benefits office strike in the same article while giving most of their attention to one individual who can’t get to Thailand to attend a wedding.

    Meanwhile in the Irish Times the most read and emailed story is titled ‘Worlds best pacman devours all before him’

  34. Peter Atkinson

    I’m all for the local community effort and support.Its probably the only way to reignite the economy.The local shop is the place where everyone should spend their money, but guess what, its owned by a big faceless organization.They are called symbol stores.They sucked in some poor gobshite with promises of glory during the boom.They sourced the store, kitted it out, stocked it and the poor gobshite is now working 100+ hours a week trying to cover his/her costs while the mothership is coing it in through that poor persons sweat and toil.You only have to look at the Super Valu model.The Scully family are riding high.Just look at the obscene turnover they put through annually.Does anyone know a millionaire Supervalu franchisee.Just ask around.The shop is full of minimum wage staff.This is just an example of supposed local community business.I say to these franchisee holders use your knowledge, get together with other owners and form your own co-op and make it work for you.Just look at the model the Quakers used all those years ago.The profits were put back into the pockets of the people that matter and communities thrived as a result

  35. MK1

    Hi David,

    You highlight the age-old economic ‘tussle’ between economy of scale and cost of purchase/delivery. Goods and services can be delivered more efficiently when they are delivered in large amounts. Its why I dont cook my own bread, dont make my own clothes or indeed didnt build my own house. Its the way of the world and has ever been thus. Its why we have worker ants and queen bees – specialisms and scale. Its biologically natural.

    Hence, large retail units and shopping centres are not because of some big business ‘collusion’ as some have suggested but because it makes economic sense: ie. goods can be provided cheaper.

    So the village versus the shopping centre has always been a battle. Indeed, the village has always been competing with the larger town, long before a Tesco or a Walmart was a twinkle in someone’s eye.

    Dalkey is quaint and like all villages has its own uniqeness, more so than others perhaps so is perhaps not a symbolic mirocosm of small-town Ireland. It has “always” been expensive but people have been willing to pay a premium for its quaintness and handiness.

    One problem Dalkey has is parking. And for the larger 1-week or 2-week household shop, there is no large supermarket in Dalkey where a car can be driven up and filled up via the shopping trolley.

    Dalkey competes well on other aspects. Would anyone prefer to go for a romantic dinner for two in Dalkey over candlelight or eat in the Dundrum SC?

    One problem I find with Dalkey, I know it well (your barber is on the same side as the library, right?) and I shop there regularly, and that is a lack of parking capacity. That cant be fixed without knocking down buildings which would ruin its character. Dalkey, like all villages, just needs to muster on. Like all businesses.

    Btw, I abhor when the media announce that such and such a chain will create NNN jobs. They dont. Retail has been about the same (per capita) for a long time, and jobs are just cannibalised, NOT created.

    In fact, the fewer jobs we have in retail, the better we as an economy are at goods and services distribution. So fewer barbers that are busy are better than more barbers that are less busy. We should as a country aim to be reducing the number of people ‘utilised’ by Retail/Wholesale.

    As for co-ops, that could work if we were in tribal groups, etc, and rarely trading. Large co-ops work better than small ones and would in time look like a large shopping cente, albeit with global brand names removed.

    But it would be good to try and keep villages intact if possible, rather than having drive-to supermarche’s off the motorways and dead villages. Take a drive through France sometime David. Dalkey is vibrant in comparison.

    I noticed that Starbucks in Dalkey, which you wrote about another time, closed its doors last October, whereas the Starbucks in Blackrock seems to be doing a good trade. Horses for courses. The office/business daytime trade is in Blackrock.

    > we’re citizens first and economic units second.

    In economic treatises, we are only economic units, carbon units at that. ;-)


    • Deco

      MK1 – you are correct. Outside of Paris, and Strasbourg, (both of which are civil servant towns), prosperity is scarce in France. In fact for the most overwhelming part of France, France is a country that has not moved forward in thirty years.

      The villages are often appearing the same as they were in the 1970s. It is an enjoyable experience for the tourist. But the sense of initiative has completely dried up and disintegreated. Despite, the massive transfers that France gets from the EU.

      Paris is doing very well as a result of the highly centralized nature of the French state, and the fact that the French state dominates private sector activity.

  36. Colin_in_exile

    There are numerous problems with high street retailing in Ireland.

    1. Staff. Probably the most unhelpful unwelcoming shop workers in the world.
    Suggestion: Hire people with good manners, train staff to value the customer.

    2. Opening Hours. Most people work in factories / offices / business premises between 9 – 5. Most shops are open between 9 – 5. Guess what? People cannot be in 2 places at once.
    Suggestion; Open the shop from 1 – 9. People can go shopping on the way home from work, meet friends for a coffee, go for something to eat in restaurant after a shop. If there’s people about in the evening getting their bits and pieces, it creates a lovely ambience, and businesses will thrive on this.

    3. Prices must be competitive. Self explanatory.

    • DarraghD

      Another huge factor is selling through the internet. A web based business based in an industrial estate in the midlands paying paybe 25K a year rent, can sell you a buggy for a lot less than a conventional business paying maybe 70K plus PA to rent a tiny piece of real estate up in The Square in Tallaght. The consumer is now web empowered and can shop around for the very best price.

      Businesses that do not reform and reach out to the internet consumer, I reckon are going-going-gone…

      The whole business model has fundamantally changed and many either refuse to accept this or else they are not in a position to accept it, possibly locked into what are now nothing other than completely unworkable property leasing situations that are doomed to fail…

      I reckon in a few years, businesses will be unrecognisable from how they appear today. I reckon your car will be serviced and maintained at night when you sleep, your groceries will be ordered and paid for automatically, it will all be done through emerging internet technologies…

  37. Tim

    Folks, The Dalky Business group referred to will be featured on the Mooney show on RTE radio 1 today, 3pm onwards, if you are interested.

  38. tony_murphy

    From UK..

    Community websites all over UK soon


    Local loyalty card used in London

  39. Colin_in_exile

    RTE Radio 1 – Mooney Show – David is talking to Derek about the situation we face we NAMA.

  40. Celestial Show with Mooney how apt ! I believe David is truely a philosopher using the passport of Economics .What he gives is a challenge for listeners and readers ‘to think’ .Now that ain’t easy .Its especially painful now for many and it hurts a lot to stop to think.
    Parliament on stage and stage in parliament only shows the transparency of a leaderless politics elected in a ‘toilet chamber’ with a ‘drink cabinet’ in Ireland .It is coming closer to the time when the electorate will have no choice but to wake up and ‘think’ to do something for once.

    • AndrewGMooney

      What is going on? ‘Celestial Show with Mooney how apt’? Is this Derek some kind of Droid? A Doppleganger? For the last time: I do not have a show on RTE….yet. I am, indeed, celestial, yet currently terrestial.

      ‘there must be chaos for the dancing star to be born’
      20:12, 20/12, 2012

  41. Tim

    Folks, Peter Matthews just sent this:

    “Can’t get a meeting with Aynsley or Dukes, rhetoric of ‘least worst option’ goes unchallenged!”

  42. Tim

    Via Stephen Kinsella (Excellent, this):

    First I read this, then this, then this. Then I thought, my God, they are doing this.

    Orderings really do matter sometimes.

  43. wills


    David on Mooney and Derek Mooney asked David point blank will he make a move and head a direct concerted fight back head on against the ‘insiders’ and consider more active efforts like running for election and David responded that he has no intention to do so and its best to keep local and stay local and make any activism on his account local and giving jobs to people.

    • AndrewGMooney

      David is talking to Derek. ‘stay local’. Transition Towns. Totnes. Peak

      Is David McWillaims a closet collapsnik? Club Orlov? Or is he a hybridity like me, morphing between collapse and Singularity. Jake Sulley.

      Never mind this ‘Derek’ character. I am the real Mooney. It’s a bit like the whole Morrissey thing. There is only one ‘Morrissey’. He’s Manchester Irish. There is only one ‘Mooney’. He/she/it/they are Birmingham Irish. They are a ‘collective consciousness, an inter-terrestrial symbiotic intelligence’ who will gather the scattered tribes to Connaught Square in Birmingham on the eve of the Apocalypse. 20:12, 2012, 2012. If you look at those numbers for long enough, you can see a flotilla of swans. Black. White. And shades of grey.

      PS: I only pretend to be a ‘mentalist’. I’m acutally Alastair Darling in disguise. Like Alastair and David McWalliams: I have Scot red roots. But I am The Chieftan. *smirks*

      PPS: ‘Atlas Air’ Massive Attack! Very ‘Horslips’?

      • Very ‘Horslips
        Ah memories of when I had hair……..

        Sums it all up really.

        • AndrewGMooney

          good call, dude. Trouble with a Capital T. Or 4 capital letters: N.A.M.A. ‘Atlas Air’ is Horslips on Mogadon after smoking 20 joints and staying up non-stop for a week. Hypnogia and insomnia = trance. I’m sure Brian Cowen crashes out with a bong or a spliff and jives along with the Massive when the whole T-shock thing ‘gets a bit much’…

          You can still have hair. Get a wig. Wig-out. Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think. Much later.

        • Heir – I remember when the late Benny Hill died I was in Cafe de la Paix Paris and having my expresso and reading d’Equip .Near me a Parisean businessman was reading The Times and saw that Benny had left no heirs in his will .He turned over to me and said a few times in typical Parisean manner ‘Benny Hill left ‘No Hairs ‘ .
          God , did he know what he was saying ?
          For me that was the last show performance by Benny.

          • AndrewGMooney

            Everywhere you go in the world, Benny Hill and Mr Bean beam into shacks and shantytowns all over the globe because it’s visual Chaplin-esque genius needs no language.

            Mr Bean is the heir to Benny Hills’ artistic genius.

  44. wills


    Tim s link @42 is very interesting.

    Its locus of interest curves along the ANIB s losses and its losses ready to be reported on of, wait for it, 12 000 000 000.

    The article considers wind down and state responsibility for its deposits.

    So, anyone please correct me if I am wrong about this but what seems to be going on is that the taxpayer is funding ANIB in the back door to be able to cash their depositers out coming in the front door.

    ANIB loaned out all the depositers cash to a property Ponzi scam it engineered and the taxpayer is now been pilfered for the cas to re pay the depositers back their deposits as they close on their accounts.

    So, this been the case one must find out if this is what s going on.

  45. Robert

    In shock here – Alan Dukes has just said on PrimeTime that “In the general scheme of things 1 Billion is NOT huge”

    • AndrewGMooney

      No, and a billion euro note will fit in nicely in Rome, Athens and Lisbon. Not sure how Angela will cope. But then. She’s off her trolley. Big time.

    • What was truely shocking was the extent of the liabilities Robert. They were described thus;
      3bn or so to subordinated bond holders (Chancers to the rest of us)
      30bn + owed to Senior bondholders
      (Our money via the Central bank , Credit Unions and pension Funds etc)
      30bn + owed to depositors
      Alan Dukes said that, even if all Anglo’s assets were sold, Anglo would still owe 20bn, which anyone on here knows would probably double because Anglo, to quote a friend of mine “don’t got nuttin to sell”.
      Now this is all fine and grand and Anglo has “reduced” its subordinated debt by a Billy-yon or two since the Guarantee but to survive, a la plan expounded by the Feirm Factor Economist, it’s to dump to NAMA, quarantine the remaining trash debt then “Fly Anglo Fly ” into a new entity.
      The poor man just parrotted away and made it up on the fly.
      Then you have the unknowns which are well known by the insiders relating to AIB / BOI.
      I’m glad I’m intelligent enough to know that I know squat about real economics.

      It must be Beelzebubian for David McW.

      • coldblow

        As another economic ignoramus I have to say I am puzzled by the senior debt as well as the major shareholders. I don’t have a particulary apocalyptic mindset but, as with property, I would have been too worried that it would blow up to invest in Anglo. What I mean is that if anyone should have had a reasonable doubt that it would go seriously wrong surely it would be the corporate sharelolders, the pension funs etc. Now, it’s clear in my own mind that the banks’ directors knew what was coming but were busy coining it in bonuses solely for personal gain (and I’d say that the richest easiest pickings were those to be got just before the end, which is why they got caught out by the sudden, for them premature, WFC) and to hell with the consequences. Well, what I’m thinking is, what were the fund managers thinking? Surely they couldn’t have been surprised by what happened either? And what, for that matter, about the responsibilities of the banks’ shareholders, especially the big boys who were supposed to know what was going on, where was their sense of responsibility? They voted in the boards. They obviously couldn’t give a damn. The circle of guilt is obviously wider than the obvious targets. I mean, I was thinking of taking out an AVC (supplementary pension) a few years ago, but decided against it because it was obvious that the whole edifice was built on the finest BS. But what would I know, I’m not an economist.

    • G

      Dukes seems so out of touch I wonder should he be chairman of anything!!

      Maybe he too will suffer the wrath of King Leo!

  46. Peter Atkinson

    Can someone answer this.In light of the will of the small entrepeneur to kickstart the economy, does anyone have the stomach to start up a new bank.Naieve as it may seem Seanie and his cronies had a free hand to challenge the big guys and succeeded up to the point of greed.Surely a new entity with a blank canvass and free of legacy debt could be up and running and instead of lobbing in €6bn every year to the dead dinosaurs these injections could be given to embryonic projects that had some chance of serving an ailing economy and succeeding.To be blunt it couldn’t do any worse.Alternatively Alan Dukes could buy multiple Euromillions lottery tickets every Friday on our behalf and have a much better chance of some return.

    • Blackpigsdyke

      I would suggest the Credit Union is your answer.

    • Just a quick suggestion Peter. If you are starting out, just question the finance requirement. Is there any other model you could use without borrowing money?
      Good ideas well worked out are currency in themselves. They are tradeable.
      We have been conditioned to try, borrow and die to suit the banks.
      i’m not coming at this from some idealistic perspective. Far from it. Roadtest your idea with friends and associates before you borrow money.
      The rule of thumb is if the idea is good enough and original enough, money will come, but on your terms.
      If it’s not good enough, but survivable for 5 years, they’ll smile and lend you the money then take your house when the plan fails.
      Fools Advice.
      Ignore the parasitical advice on Dragons Den BTW.

      • Colin_in_exile


        Good advice there about Dragon’s Den. Last night one Dragon made a comment about not being interested in playing golf because he still had a sex life. Is this Dragon living on another planet? For the last 2 months the media have been highlighting Tiger Woods’ shenanigans with pornstars (more than 1 at a time too), cocktail waitresses and plenty of other ladies who simply have a pulse.

        How could a Dragon be so misinformed?

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