Like most dark-haired* people with blue eyes, I love Ireland and the romantic bones it rattles in my soul, so this week’s invitation to do a keynote at the annual Dublin Digital Summit was accepted eagerly.
The keynote went down well, people were interesting, funny and always up for a drink… and there was great stuff shared by delegates and presenters. However it was the peripheral conversations that defined my trip because Ireland is royally screwed.
My keynote was about mobile money and payments in Somaliland, an unrecognised country in the Horn of Africa, and how it was changing the concept of money. While I was in Dublin I started to think about whether money had any value at all.
One friend told me confidentially about his posh hose. He had bought at the height of the Celtic Tiger, a million Euro mortgage costing him six grand a month. By his estimates the value had plunged not by the official figure of 45%, but closer to 70%.
Furthermore, and incredibly, he hadn’t paid that mortgage for three years, that’s 36 x 6,000 Euros and he hadn’t received a single letter from his bank questioning the arrears. Bonkers, and it appears that the Irish judiciary are refusing to rule in favour of banks against individuals because the judges consider them culpable for the whole sorry mess. Ergo noboby was paying their mortgages any more.
Others told me they were getting out, moving ANYWHERE and while they weren’t eating raw potatoes they weren’t sucking down lobster bisque either. I was invited to Dublin’s Residence Club, a place that defined the bloated Irish economy, a place that used to be rammed with beautiful people spending bundles. On Wednesday night, it was me, my mate and a fat bloke with two female bank tellers up from suburbia.
But, but, but, there is more than hope. Rather like London when it’s going through a skint phase and people pick up guitars, put on cheap gigs and even start selling spliff to get by, the twinkle is back in Dublin’s eye. Believe me, give it 18 months and Dublin will be the centre of the world for creativity.
Irish entrepreneurs have stopped being property developers and are back to making music again. I only had to look around the Croke Park conference centre in front of a packed house to see creativity bursting out of those smilin’ Irish eyes.
Digital transformations will accelerate the previous slow process of a skint city becoming creative and it will be 18 months and Dublin will be the centre of the universe, the must-visit city of the decade and back to what it always was, the home of Synge, Yeats, Wilde and Joyce, not Bradford and fucking Bingley.
Whether you think I’m only beatifying Dublin because my keynote was well-received and I’m as plastic a Paddy as any member of The Waterboys, you might have a point. But, pop over there in the next couple of months and you might see what I mean.
* lightly and tastefully dusted with grey