Ireland's Economy: Celtic Crunch Time

Photograph for TIME by Alan O'Connor

SIGNS OF THE TIME: The collapse of Ireland's frenzied real estate market has pushed the country into recession

It's been close to 140 years since Weir & Sons began trading jewelry on Grafton Street, a hot spot for Dublin shoppers. The business has weathered the years well. "We've seen ups and downs, wars and rebellions," says Neville McDowell, jewelry buyer for the family-run company. The latest downturn will test it again. After a "phenomenal" decade, McDowell says, a squeeze on spending means sales this year are expected to dip by 10%. Even for a hardy company, says McDowell, "business is tough."

It's a familiar refrain across Ireland. After more than a decade of runaway growth, the...

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