Kitchin, Rob and O'Callaghan, Cian and Gleeson, Justin
The New Ruins of Ireland? Unfinished
Estates in the Post-Celtic Tiger Era.
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (3).
In the wake of the global financial crisis, and as Europe’s financial and fiscal woes
continue, Ireland’s beleaguered economy has attracted a great deal of scrutiny, with
much made of the country’s status as one of the PIIGS and the fact that it was bailed out
by the troika of the IMF, EU and ECB in November 2010. Whilst most attention has been
directed at Ireland’s banks and the strategy of the Irish government in managing the
crisis, substantial interest (both nationally and internationally) has been focused on the
property sector and in particular the phenomenon of so-called ‘ghost estates’ (or, in
official terms, unfinished estates). As of October 2011 there were 2,846 such estates in
Ireland, and they have come to visibly symbolize the collapse of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’
economy. In this essay, we examine the unfinished estates phenomenon, placing them
within the context of Ireland’s property boom during the Celtic Tiger years, and
conceptualize them as ‘new ruins’ created through the search for a spatial fix by
speculative capitalism in a time of neoliberalism. We detail the characteristics and
geography of such estates, the various problems afflicting the estates and their residents,
and the Irish government’s response to those problems. In the final section we examine
the estates as exemplars of new ruins, the remainder and reminder of Celtic Tiger excess.
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