Jaywalking with the Irish

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 January, 2005, 12:00am

Jaywalking with the Irish

by David Monagan

Lonely Planet $150

Bored and disillusioned with Connecticut, Monagan takes his wife and three kids to live in Ireland for a few years. As an Irish-American, he's grown up with romantic notions of the Emerald Isle, but he and his family discover a country transformed when they land in Cork City. Girls sport navel rings and BMWs spew gravel at the last donkey carts, while 20 million extra pints go down the hatch at every big soccer match.

Cork is the European Union's Capital of Culture for 2005, a heavily funded designation that will create 5,000 cultural events in the next 18 months. The Monagans are accepted by their eccentric neighbours, but discover a dark side when drug addicts break in at night. A nostalgia-free portrait of an Ireland wrestling with its pace as the fastest-growing economy in Europe.