Following the Economist ‘quality of life’ survey, in which Ireland topped the list of ‘best countries in the world to live in’, in the Guardian, Irish Times columnist John Waters and author Joseph O’Connor give their take on how Ireland has coped with the shocking news.
John Waters predicts a new dispensation that will see expectations increasingly failing to meet reality and, in the process, makes some good points on what he argues is “the last survey to include evidence of both old and new in a single graph. For now we move into a different grade, to be judged among our peers and by their standards..”
“Apparently, the Economist found that Ireland, unlike other wealthy countries, has retained strong “traditional values” rooted in family, and that, while Ireland is not immune to western lifestyle problems such as family breakdown and addiction, it is less affected than other societies. We rank less well, apparently, in areas such as gender equality, health and climate, but not even the Irish weather was enough to significantly retard our lead.
Strangely enough, the Irish national conversation had just begun to come around to an entirely different opinion, and signs that the Irish people are succumbing to debt, drunkenness and despair have returned to fashion those of us who make our livings from foretelling of doom.”
Joseph O’Connor, on the other hand, reflects on the differences between the Ireland he grew up in and what he sees now – “The country has changed beyond recognition. Yet there is a certain streak of gloom among some of the Dublin commentariat, who refuse to accept that things are better now than they were in the Ireland of Frank McCourt” – “We’re ungrateful auld sods. Little luxuries like artificial hips, that’s what we want.”
“That said, it is important that the grating note of self-congratulation that sometimes sounds through contemporary Irish life be questioned often. Irish lives have improved, for most of us anyway; but there is more to quality of life than smugness and caffe latte.”
Additionally, he does point out, “We also have the Corrs – but nothing’s perfect”.