In the context of the recent financial meltdown, widespread unemployment, and the proliferation of unfinished estates, the problems associated with existing areas characterised by poverty and structural disadvantage have not vanished but rather been submerged beneath the mainstream discourses of the crisis; in much the same way as they were submerged beneath the mainstream discourse of economic expansion and wealth creation during the Celtic Tiger years.  A fascinating collection of photographs depicting “youths coming of age in a world of drugs, gangs and arson” in Ballymun by artist Ross McDonell offers an arresting reminder of the other side of the Celtic Tiger.  ‘Joyrider’ presents frank portraits of vandalism, dereliction and crime in the lives of children and young adults growing up in Ballymun.   “These pictures document the transition from anti-social behaviour to criminality, from childhood to adulthood without a ‘youth’ in between,” says McDonnell.  Yet, in an interview in the New York Times, he also infers a sense of community within this ritualistic culture.  “I felt that one of the consequences of the huge changes brought about by the Celtic Tiger was a loss of some of the things that defined us as Irish… One of these things was our sense of community spirit, that notion that we were all in it together”.  These are pictures of communities on the margins of the boom who remain marginal in the aftermath of the crash.

Cian O’ Callaghan

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