The Celtic Tiger has been dead for a good eight years now, and most popular commentary would tell you that's a good thing – given the ruinous state it left our country in, with the begging bowl held out towards the Germans. But while it looked like we were set for decades of austerity, I've noticed signs in the last week that remind me of the "good" old days.
Forget Constantin Gurdgiev and David McWilliams detailed analysis and lets look at the real facts on the ground...
Burgers now cost between €18 and €25
I ate in two restaurants in the last 10 days.
In Avenue – where the food was spectacular – I nearly fell off my chair when I spotted the €25 burger, and a couple of days earlier I'd already been floored by the 18 Euro burger in the new Taco Taco. Now I'm sure they were both magnificent pieces of creative work, but there would've been a Prime Time investigation and debate in the Dáil if you'd tried to charge that even 12 months ago.
Taxi drivers are high on life
We all know that taxi drivers are the best barometer when it comes to all matters economic.
Not only do they listen to a highly potent cocktail of Newstalk and Joe Duffy all day, but they also ferry us beleaguered citizens around the capital listening to our gripes. Prompting the three taxi drivers I met this week with the simple (if a bit clichéd) "You busy tonight bud?", all of them complained about having too much work.
Too many bleeding tourists, said one; no time for a proper dinner, said another; and one was even talking about upgrading his car even though, by his own admission, "he didn't really need to".
Boozy Lunches Are Back
When thinking about this piece last night I wondered about the best location to go and litmus-test the feeling of the Celtic Tiger being back – and in the end, it could only be Residence, the private members' club on the Green.
Sure enough as I walked in for a plate of pasta in the name of research the place was absolutely packed. Media types, politicians, bankers and stockbrokers in horrendous suits were buzzing away eating the finest food money could buy. More interestingly, though, at least half of them were having a sneaky glass of wine.
The lunchtime business trade has been decimated for the last eight years in Dublin – but it's starting to come back for sure.
Half of Spain and Italy are here
You can't pop your head in a door around Dublin without bumping into the young Mediterranean folk. They're serving coffees, pulling pints, drinking pints, learning English and generally coming here to find work because their own countries are still in the shit... and ours isn't.
17,000 corporate guests hitting Punchestown
The Celtic Tiger cubs wouldn't have the balls to venture out resurrect the tent at Galway just yet, for fear of the media hiding in the long grass, but Punchestown is brimming full of corporate guests weeks in advance of the festival. Crucially these are people who had the money all along to afford it, but now it's okay to be seen spending it again.
Expect buckets of champagne to be flowing down to the tables when this kicks off. They even have a chopper in their promotional shots.
We're all still fucked though, no?
I can feel many people's blood boiling as they read this. What about the water charges? Isn't the picture outside Dublin still grim? Isn't it all well for that Harbo fucker to be sitting in a private members club pontificating about the economy while most people still struggle?
Fair, but I'd argue that the recovery has to start somewhere. Despite all the talk of the Troika bleeding us dry and a generation doomed beyond repair, we're bouncing back. Nobody wants to lose the wonderful creativity that the recession brought, and we've learned so much about ourselves as a people and about our own creativities in the last eight years.
Hopefully, we won't get carried away like we did in the past – but ultimately, we've taken some seriously hard medicine, we've been on the economic equivalent of an intravenous drip for the guts of a decade now – and if people can afford a €25 burger, fuck it, let them have it.
There is only one more key economic indicator that I have my eyes on to confirm my analysis, and that's the sight of the most sombre man in Ireland breaking loose. Yes indeed, it's surely only a matter of time before we see Michael Noonan with a roaring smile on his face – lashing into a singsong at a party, with Brian Cowen on guitar and a champagne mojito in his hand.
Make no mistake about it – the Celtic Tiger is on the way back, baby.