‘Heavy With Middle-Age’


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Members of youth groups from across Ireland outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin in October 2013

In April 2009, the State contained 1.423 million people aged between 15 and 35. In April 2014, there were 1.206 million in the same age group. That’s a reduction from one generation of more than the entire population of Limerick city and county. This is the age group of rebellion, of adventure, of trying it out and trying it on. It’s the generation that annoys its elders and outrages convention and challenges accepted wisdom. It is demography’s answer to the stultification of groupthink. It is not always right but without its capacity to drive everyone else up the wall, smugness settles over everything like a fine grey dust.

Look anywhere in Ireland that is not a specific redoubt of youth culture, and the place is heavy with middle-age. From the civil service to the media, from politics to the arts establishment, you find demographic landscapes that have been largely frozen for the last six years. The thinning ranks of the young have been unable to mount any sustained challenge to the self-serving orthodoxies of their elders. Which would be fine if the place they leave could afford the consequent culture of stasis and complacency

Fintan O’Toole in today’s Irish Times.


*Grabs placard*

Quickly but quietly, Ireland is disappearing its young people (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times)

Previously: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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13 thoughts on “‘Heavy With Middle-Age’

  1. scottser

    ‘It is demography’s answer to the stultification of groupthink’

    it is the age group that makes up its own words.

  2. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    As a member of an earlier generation where emigration was the best option, I agree with the sentiment. I feel that if more of my generation were still living in Ireland, it might be a more modern society. I think that the RCC would not be as powerful.

    1. rotide

      As was said below, that’s wishful thinking. Every generation is more liberal in its youth and even though the last few have gradually turned the tide, not everyone thinks the same way.

      The emigrants of the 80s and 90’s haven’t radically changed the demographic of politics of those left behind.

  3. will-billy

    i do not think what age people are matters, it is their experience and perspective and if young people were still here would many of them young ones gain control? no. some of them might even be worse cf Ronan Mullen

    1. Anne


      There’s no doubt that emigration has been a blight to this country’s development, but I think Fintan could have put this better, rather than focusing on the age element.

      How old is he anyway? Midlife crisis?

  4. Rob

    What an easy article to write, just goes to show any a******e can have a column in the IT. You could write that article every 15 years and make it sound pertinent. Risk takers my arse, more like holiday seekers and I should know I’ve been gone for 25yrs and seen em all coming!

  5. Bingo

    Pesky kids!
    Anyway, now that they’ve p*ssed off to get p*ssed in Oz, we can let a few foreigners in.
    People that might actually want to live and work in Ireland.

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