Beyond rainbows and leprechauns – 4 economic facts you should know about the Irish

Ah, St. Patrick’s day.

In the last few years it seems this Irish holiday becomes more and more popular throughout the world, as parties, beer and the color green flood the streets and the internet.

Nevermind most people don’t even know what this day is about, as it all blends in a celebration of everything Irish.

But as many things that go global, it is easy to fall back into stereotypes and easy pickings.

For that reason, and in honor of our Irish readers out there, let’s take a look at some of their history on the economic side of things.

1 – They picked up the luck they’ve made and turned it high-tech

While the idea of Ireland can make your mind travel to a rustic tradition of yesteryear, fast-forward a few years and you find a fully 21st century economy with a thriving technological sector.

Starting in the 1950’s, a surge of tech multinationals established their presence in Ireland, such as IBM, HP, Microsoft and Oracle.

And the tradition lived on, with the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Airbnb setting operations in the Emerald Isle.

It’s no wonder that FinTech is also growing in this environment, particularly in payments, lending, RegTech, with an investment of $1.3bn made between 2014 and 2019.

And things seem to be looking good for the sector despite the impact of Brexit, as it continues to experience growth.

2 – It may not be a pot of gold, but there still is treasure out there!

Yes, the old “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” is a staple of Irish culture for non-Irish people, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to it!

Before the widespread adoption of the Euro, Ireland used the Irish punt.

Unlike other central banks, Ireland’s Central Bank is accepting Irish punts to be redeemed indefinitely.

And so, as of January 2020, there is still a staggering €347,404,127 is still unaccounted for!

Why are people holding on to their punts? We are not so sure ourselves, but if it’s as the Irish say (“A fool and his money are easily parted”), we can surely expect that they will hold on to it for some more time.

3 – They survived a period of mass starvation

The Great Famine, the Great Hunger. Or how it is known outside of Ireland, the Irish Potato Famine.

As you probably guessed, the potato had a big role in this event, that extended from 1845 to 1849.

More specifically, a widespread case of potato blight that infected crops all through Europe, decimating almost one half of the Irish crops.

This particularly affected the Irish, as they depended mainly on this single crop for their sustenance – almost a million died and another million forced to leave Ireland to escape poverty and starvation.

During this time, Ireland was effectively still a colony under British government, whose lack of care for the Irish people is still very present in the collective memory today. So much that in 1997, Tony Blair effectively apologised to Ireland for the way the government handled the crisis.

As a relevancy bonus, during this period, the potato is cited as an example of a Giffen good, which experiences a rise in demand at the same time as a rise in price (even if this is up for debate due to lack of data).

4 – And that old luck of the Irish? They made their own luck

If you are being ravaged by famine and having trouble making ends meet, where do you turn to?

For many Irish, this meant crossing the Atlantic to America in search of a better life.

As it turns out, many people weren’t much too welcoming of this wave of Irish immigrants. It wasn’t uncommon to find on job openings that “No Irish Need Apply”.

Mining was one of the fields where Irish settlers were able to find jobs. It was the period of America’s Gold Rush, and their hard work made it so that they were able to surpass a lot of American miners in terms of result.

Not wanting to fall behind, and looking for reasons beyond merit and hard work, the “Luck of the Irish” became a common excuse for their success.

And leave to a proud people like the Irish to be able to turn this term around to a positive! How’s that for a pot of gold?

Scroll to Top