Irvine Welsh on Ireland
Irvine Welsh grew up in Leith, Scotland. The son of working class parents, he spent his childhood in government housing, a milieu he gave voice to in his hugely popular novel and subsequent film, Trainspotting. The book was an international success and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Welsh moved to London in his twenties and played in local punk bands but returned to Edinburgh in the late-80s. Drawing inspiration from the the rave culture there, he began writing seriously and submitting to literary journals. After Trainspotting, he published Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, The Acid House and The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs. His books’ themes range from the Scottish identity, sectarianism, classism, immigration, unemployment, AIDS and drug use. Recent works are The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006), a play, Babylon Heights (2006), written with Dean Cavanagh, and If You Liked School You'll Love Work (2007). His latest novel, Crime, was published in 2008. He has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and currently divides his time between Miami, Chicago, Dublin and London.
Irvine Welsh: Well, Ireland’s kind of… It’s such a weird transformation. I’ve been… Because I’ve got relatives and family from there. I’ve been going there since I was a kid. But it’s like, it’s kind of… Just, in the last 10 years, 15 years, it just come out with, just like, [under new] recession, basically, and it’s just changed. it’s just changed so much. It’s become like, it’s become an importer of people. It’s become a multi-ethnic society and this has happened just in almost in a blink of an eye. When I go away from my street and come back about 2 weeks later, the whole place practically was different. You can see it happen before your eyes, almost. It’s quite a transformation. So, it’s been a great thing for people in Ireland because they’re just… You have to have been put up [IB] over the years. You deserve a bit of wealth and affluence. But, on the other hand, something like that does change a country and sometimes not always for the better.
There’s a kind of gold rush mentality, but, again the current recession we’re moving into now, it’s difficult to see how that can play out. But, again, Ireland is in a much stronger position than the USA or the UK to ride out the recession because unlike us in Britain or yourselves in America, it’s now spend all this kind of capital reserve. So, it’s like it has a lot of money reserved. So, the big capital projects like the Dublin Metro, the [IB] and stuff, these are all going ahead, whereas these are usually the first things that crumble when you have a recession.
Recorded on: September 8, 2008
Irvine Welsh tells of how Ireland went multi-ethnic overnight.
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