Articles: Economic History %

February 17, 2014

My earliest memories of Castle Street, Dalkey, were Saturday mornings in Dom McClure’s barbershop with my father. Dom cut my Grandad’s hair, my Dad’s hair and now he was shearing mine. More

February 3, 2014

Even though the Pantheon in Paris is covered up for refurbishment, it is impossible not to be amazed by the majesty of it. It is where France goes to bury its great men. The roll-call of the dead is impressive, from Napoleon to Victor Hugo. Interestingly, it was right in the middle of the French Revolution when the French were killing quite a few of their great men and wouldn’t have been that keen on such traditionalist, religious ceremonies such as burials. More

January 23, 2014

Recently there has been lots of talk about who is buying Ireland. Foreign investors are buying Irish government debt and foreign funds are buying Irish prime property assets. Both of these developments are taken as barometers of how foreigners perceive this country. More

December 23, 2013

What’s worse? Having to listen to a Portuguese communist telling us that the Euro was a victim of Ireland? Or having to listen to our own guy, when the EU has just nailed his ass to a post, telling us there is “no row” between Ireland and the EU President? More

October 31, 2013

The 328 bus from Golders Green to Notting Hill is as much a journey through the changing ethnicities of London as it is a route home. Last night I hopped on it and watched the unfolding of the ethnic map of Europe’s biggest city and possibly the world’s most cosmopolitan metropolis, as each tribe got on an off, as we moved from area to area, from High Road to High Street. More

October 7, 2013

Nathan Rothschild was the richest man in Britain in 1836. His wealth was enormous. He financed the British Army in its war against Napoleon and legend has it that his private system of carrier pigeons got word back to him that the British had actually won at Waterloo when the mainstream report suggested the opposite. This knowledge prompted him to buy up all British government debt when the rest of London’s financiers were selling on misinformation. More

September 26, 2013

The structure is familiar to any Irish person. The stout walls, the battlements designed for heavy artillery, perched on an elevated site with good views around it, normally on a military road or overlooking a large river or a bay. The Martello Tower is something we in Ireland hardly even notice now, but spotting a Martello Tower here in Quebec City prompts a double-take. More

September 2, 2013

In a recent survey, the British discount website MyVoucherCodes asked a group of 18 to 25-year-old women if they would trade some of their IQ for bigger breasts. Of the 1,100 women surveyed, one-third of respondents said they would. Meanwhile, in the US, a study showed that for American women who were below average weight, gaining 25 pounds produced an average salary decrease of $15,500. More

August 19, 2013

The local lad, more meat on a seagull, walks precariously on the narrow ledge of the enormous bridge. One false move and he is gone. Far below, the green Neretva river moves slowly. The blazing summer sun forces the locals into the shade and it is from here underneath a large home-made canopy on the Muslim side of Mostar in Bosnia that we watch the spectacle. More

June 27, 2013

The brilliant English economist John Stuart Mill, writing in the 1860s, noted that “a crash doesn’t destroy wealth, it merely reflects the extent to which wealth has already been destroyed by stupid investments made during the preceding boom”. More

Articles: Economic History

I write a column every week. This keeps me sane and hopefully, on my toes – but you can be the judge of that! The article appears in the Irish Times every Saturday. I just started writing this column (having recently left my column at the Irish Independent which I wrote for over 10 years). I cover economic, financial, demographic, social and geo-political issues – and all sorts of other things that come into my head, sparked by things I’ve read, people I have spoken to or ideas I have heard, over the course of any particular week.

The world - and Ireland - is changing so rapidly that it’s impossible to run out of things to write about. Since I rarely stop writing, the articles are composed and written in the oddest of places, in bars, on trains, in my office, on buses. You name it, I’ve written in, on or under it.

One of the great joys in the week is reading the responses to my articles in the comments on this site. Thanks so much to everyone who responds, challenges, argues and even blatantly insults! This is what freedom of expression and opinion is all about: two contrasting opinions – a buyer and a seller - make a market and makes for good discussion. Imagine a world where we all agreed?