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As our time in Dublin came to a close on Monday, we met cab driver “Seamus,” who took us to Dublin’s airport to pick up our car. Driving in Ireland is really not as bad as they, but that’s a story for another time. During the cab ride, we spoke with “Seamus” about the housing woes in Ireland. He states that in the last 2 years, there has been a 40% drop in housing prices. When we said that America has seen a similar decline (particularly Florida, Nevada, and California), he was quick to point out that as the American economy goes — so goes the world. And it’s just the same in Ireland. To be honest, the circumstances were quite similar to America as the big banks in Ireland gave tons of money to the top builders in the country. This created a bubble similar to that of sub prime loans, and, well, it wasn’t the best of situations.
When asked how the Irish people feel about how their economy is these days, he simply said that they just go get another pint of Guinness. On the upside, he went on to say that Ireland is quickly becoming the “Silicon Valley of Europe.” Particularly in Dublin, they have Facebook, Google Ireland, and Intel. On the flip side of that, since 9/11, tourism and housing have all but bottomed out. When asked if the strong Euro had anything to do with this, “Seamus” explained he hasn’t noticed the European Union or Euro in general having that big of an effect.
When asked about the uncertainty and chaos taking place in Greece, he said that he doesn’t really worry about that country. The Irish believe in taking care of themselves first, then worrying about other people. Or as “Seamus” put it: “Keep your ship in shape and make sure you have a good crew.” While a noble statement on “Seamus'” part, my wife and I couldn’t get over how some people in Ireland failed to see the ramifications of being a part of the EU. Many still thought of themselves and their country as independent, they are now completely dependent on one another (and each country’s problems).
He also spoke about the changing generations. Most notably, he explained that when he was kid, a person could leave doors open and nobody had to worry about it. Today, that’s not something anybody can do. You just cannot be as trusting. Furthermore, there is a lack of respect of children for their parents and elders. On top of that, families are always fighting today and older children fail to care for and put their younger siblings’ needs ahead of their own.
To wrap up our encounter with “Seamus,” he seemed to us to be a great man. He explained that the little things are dying — and this goes for the whole world. We lack a firm belief in anything — whether it be God or anything else. People don’t go to church as often as they used to and — as “Seamus” pointed out rather firmly — we rather have a Guinness than go to mass.
To our European audience: tell us how this compares to your feelings and stories. Comment here, find us on Twitter, or email us at — Ireland@FinancialBin.com.