Polski & Eire Thursday September 13, 2007

I’m not trying to make some racist or political statement with this post. Just pointing out a dramatic observation from my time in Ireland now, as opposed to what I remember from my childhood. For god’s sake do not take offense.

One of the noticeable differences of the new Celtic-tiger Ireland and the Ireland of my youth; is the huge influx of new cultures and races into the country. From what I remember of Ireland it was a fairly homogeneous country. My mum tells a great story of the controversy Gerry caused when people in her small village mistook him for a black man some thirty odd years ago. (My Dad is perma-Tanned from years of work in the Middle East. In comparison to the fair skinned majority here, in all honesty he still looks like a black man.)

Anyways, the most noticeable footprint in day-to-day life is that of the huge population of Polish in the country. It is estimated that there are roughly 200,000 polish migrants have come to Ireland since the beginning of the Celtic-Tiger Boom. Because of the building explosion brought on by the Celtic Tiger at the beginning of the millennium, Polish workers came over in droves to help with the labor crunch in the housing market.

In 2004, Poland joined the EU; at the same time Ireland (in desperate need of blue-collar labor) relaxed it’s immigration policy. The Polish workers already here from the Celtic Tiger told of the great wages and benefits they were getting in Ireland. (In actuality most Polish workers were greatly underpaid, even though they worked longer hours and harder … in some cases) That’s when the flood gates opened.

For a country of 3-4 million and at such a geographical backwater location, a influx of 200,000 is very substantial. There are hundreds of Polski shops scattered in every town and city center in Ireland. The large corporations now offer all their services in English, Gaelic or Polish. The supermarket and off-license chains all have imported Polish Products. Banks now have smaller Polish branches to help with their daily transactions. In some instances, small towns have actually double in size because of the Polish influx.

That’s not to say there have never been different cultures in Ireland, but I don’t think Ireland as a nation has never responded to such a culture in such away. Plus, given Ireland’s notorious infiltration into other parts of the world (Did anyone see Gangs of New York) it’s interesting to watch the tables being turned on Ireland.

(*Sidenote*: I found this interesting article from the CBC about recent souring towards the Polish population by some of the Irish. Which is a shame considering the notorious treatment the Irish received during their emigration to America and other regions years ago.)Anyways, the most noticeable footprint in day-to-day life is that of the huge population of Polish in the country. It is estimated that there are roughly 200,000 polish migrants have come to Ireland since the beginning of the Celtic-Tiger Boom. Because of the building explosion brought on by the Celtic Tiger at the beginning of the millennium, Polish workers came over in droves to help with the labor crunch in the housing market.

Categories: The-Adventures, The-HomeLand, The Past, The Soapbox, The Urban, The World

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