In 2009 to 2011, Ireland’s boom went bust. According to The World Financial Review, Ireland ranked “among the worst-affected countries in terms of output performance during this period. Relatedly, after a long period of running surpluses, the fiscal balance shifted from positive territory in 2007 to baseline deficits of 10-12 percent of GDP…”Author Donal Ryan’s characters flesh out the tale.
Donal writes of when Pokey’s construction business falls flat, the men working on the construction site learn that taxes weren’t paid, and they won’t be able to collect their unemployment. The rippling ramifications of financial ruin seep through the town.
The strength of Ryan’s work is found in the authenticity of the voices. From Lilly’s lament, “My second fella, Hughie, is married to a strap of a wan that looks at me like she scraped me off the sole of her shoe” to a young man’s reflection, “I suppose that’s where Seanie Shaper came from–I was forever fixing my hair and throwing auld smart shapes for fear there’d be girls along the road,” Ryan’s characters reflect on the events molding their lives with wit and Irish flair.
The personal failures of the residents of the small town are known by other characters, who reflect on them with pity. The reader hears the tenderness in the musings of Hilary about her friend, “…I see her sometimes when she thinks no one’s looking, and she just looks so sad, but she does draw sadness on herself, in fairness…” Lilly thinks about a young builder accused of murder, “He’s got all his mother’s goodness, that boy. He got no part of his father that I can see.”
The reader is pulled into the Ireland of 2009 to 2011 by the strength of Donal’s voice. Hearing the tale, the reader reels from the spin of the jilted Irish hearts and broken dreams.
Lane, Phillip. The Irish Crisis . The World Financial Review.
Ryan, Donal. The Spinning Heart. Lilliput Press, 2012.