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The 'piebald pony' effect - Are Ireland's economic woes linked to its culture?

Once again, international commentary on Ireland’s economy seems to focus excessively on Irish culture – with a New York Times piece being the latest to join the list.

Image: Mattias via Creative Commons

THE NEW YORK Times has identified the latest victims of the Irish recession: horses.

“Horses, that are such an enduring part of Irish culture are paying a price, too,” writes the newspaper on the thousands of horses which have been abandoned in the recession. The Dunsink tip on the outskirts of Dublin is identified as one of the worst sites – theatrically described as a place “that wounds the heart”.

It would seem, despite Joan Burton’s comments that “Ireland is not just ghost estates and piebald ponies left to run in fields”, the international perception of the country is uncomfortably close to just that. While a horse is undoubtedly a symbol of wealth, the explanatory line that Irish people find pleasure in them “much as other people find pleasure in owning luxury cars” might raise an eyebrow or two.

Ornate rhetoric and the problem of animal abandonment aside, a trend to discuss Ireland’s economic troubles in cultural terms appears strangely common. Few commentators seemed interested in musing on Spanish or Greek stereotypes when discussing their economic collapses – yet the depiction of George Osbourne dancing a slip jig across the Ha’penny Bridge on his way to “save” Ireland was considered perfectly acceptable by the BBC.

And, inevitably, metaphors of leprechauns and pots of gold also prove irresistible to some… Check out how Taiwan interprets our recession:

What do you think of how Ireland’s economic crisis is being discussed internationally? Let us know in the comments below>

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