“Over in Killarney… many years ago; Me mither sang a song to me… In tones so sweet and low.”
— from “Tura-Lura-Lural” (That’s an Irish Lullaby) as performed by Van Morrison
Downtown Dublin feels like the French Quarter in New Orleans. Only colder and older. A professional pressure washer could stay busy here for a lifetime.
Cobblestone streets separate ancient brown buildings. Church steeples, some constructed a thousand years ago, loom above a city teaming with friendly and polite people. Paying for lunch with euros has become second nature. But American accents can be heard on city sidewalks, in hotel lobbies and elevators and in restaurants and cafes.
The countryside is gorgeous and sparsely populated. Ireland’s population (less than 5 million) is about the same as that of Alabama. On the journey to visit the Cliffs of Moher, the bus driver and my mom fell into conversation and decided that they are probably related.
Tomorrow we will enjoy a special viewing of “The Books of Kells,” which contains the four Gospels in Latin originally copied by St. Jerome in 386.
Our team addressed graduate students at the Business School of Trinity College in Dublin. The bright, shiny faces reflect the same intelligence that you find on campus in Tallahassee and Gainesville; in Tuscaloosa and Auburn, Alabama; and in Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. Author Bill Bryson once said that there’s something special about being around thousands of young people enjoying the best years of their lives.
As we left the college, I contemplated the coming months for the students whom we had just addressed. Will the European Union be part of their future? Ireland has benefited more from membership in the EU than has Great Britain, so the Irish are not as eager to bolt the system. The implementation of Brexit in the UK will likely be unwieldy, and the significance of the fallout is anyone’s guess. Upcoming elections in France will serve as another referendum on the EU and the organization’s future lies in the balance. Still, though, most here take a more casual attitude regarding the safety of their money. Americans would likely fret much more intensely about the potential dissolution of our currency.
One is reassured of the strength of the American economy when traveling here. More than one economist has told me that they keep at least part of their savings in dollar denominated assets. Following the Great Recession, Ireland bit the economic bullet, imposing new taxes and measures of austerity. Now that full employment has returned, many want to see these taxes rolled back. But it’s funny how that rarely happens, here or at home.
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC®, AIF®, author of the syndicated economic column “Arbor Outlook,” is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850.608.6121 – www.arborwealth.net), a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.