Irish prosperity has been described recently as a “Miracle” and countries who have not experienced such prosperity inevitably ask “Can we import the Irish miracle?”
Answering that question is not an easy task…but let’s start with bit of history.
In 1841 before the potato famine of 1845 the present Republic had a population of 6.5 million people; and between 1845 and 1926 the population shrunk to 3 million as a result of famine, emigration and the guerrilla war of independence (1919-1922).
And it declined further to a low of 2.8 million in 1961 because of –
• The negative impact of policies to reduce the British presence,
• Strongly socialist and pro-labor policies that shackled the private sector.
• An agricultural economy that exported primarily to Great Britain, and
• An educational system that supported those objectives. There were no free public high schools and tertiary education was two good but traditional universities.
The focus of educators, clerics, planners, and politicians for a generation after independence was “parochial, rural, neo-Gaelic (i.e. Gaelic speaking) and, above all, Catholic.” Dismal job prospects within Ireland fueled emigration that more than offset the natural population growth.
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