Before even leaving school, I had tacitly accepted that I would be emigrating once college was over. Back then, it was a matter of only modest consequence. A dozen Leaving Certificate classes or so had already gone that road before our one had even given it any consideration. It was the way that things were back then. Ireland held no prospects; it offered no future. The only way up was a plane ticket out. Then the narrative changed. Somewhere in the space where I was off getting shit-faced, losing my religion, and all the rest of that adolescent-to-adult carry-on, things went and got better… unimaginably better. There were suddenly jobs, a freedom from the shackles, a strange thrill of self-determination, a sense of unquestioning self-belief… We were amongst the first of the tiger cubs and we could not believe our luck.
Now there is a generation with a contrasting tale to tell. Welcome to the poison paradise, if you will, for these are the kids who knew little other than to take things for granted. Ireland had rapidly decayed into being a materialistic society and what more susceptible acolytes of the market economy than image-conscious teenagers who were entirely unencumbered by the grimness of pre-tiger Ireland? Here, the 18-strong graduation class from the Gaiety School of Acting have chosen to peer into the abyss that such misplaced trust in the future can create, with each providing some nice autobiographical detail along the way as to how they saw the world at the age of 14 and what is important to them now. (more…)