There is a divide.
Today we were lectured by Doctor Darren Kelley about the history and evolution of Irish culture. At the very beginning, he gave us a thought exercise: using an X for a chair and a square for a table, make a design for a high school classroom and a boardroom. Upon sharing, we found that each of us had delivered practically the same design, with only slight variations. After that, he asked us to describe the type of wood that the business table would be made of and how the chairs would be. Once more, we all came up with the same results. It was an interesting statement on a reappearing theme, the way our schooling beats the creativity and individuality out of us.
After this introduction, we began to discuss the fact that Ireland has only been as it is for a very short time. In the 1980s, Ireland was a second world country and was a completely mono cultural nation. It was primarily a blue collar country that failed to industrialize and subsequently experienced mass emigration as nobody wanted to live there. To combat this, the government set the corporate tax rate at a meager 5%. This was the origin of the Celtic Tiger, the sudden emergence of Ireland as not only a first world country, but a first rate tech hub where many companies keep their headquarters. It was fascinating to hear about this first emergence and then the immediate impact of the worldwide recessions of 2008.
Ireland was hit extremely hardly by this economic disaster and had to be bailed out by the European Union. As such, they lost much of their autonomy for a long time. Recently they were able to pay off their debts and regain control, but they are so reliant on foreign direct investment that it is nearly impossible for them to tell the companies what to do. The most fascinating thing is to compare how extremely different the country is after a mere thirty years. No more is the rural working class that failed to industrialize, the modern era is filled with exquisite architecture and booming businesses of the Silicon Docks.
There is a great divide. The past and present could not be more different for the small nation, and it will be interesting to see how different the future could be.