Year of recession - 1986: Children of the ’80s set sail for uncharted waters

THE boot of our 1984 Ford Fiesta was packed with corned beef sandwiches, Club Milks and TK lemonade when we set off on our first foreign holiday almost 20 years ago.

My brother, sister, mum, dad, grandmother and myself squashed into the three-door car and we set off for Rosslare to catch the ferry to Wales.

My friends at school were very jealous — some of them had to make do with a long weekend in Youghal for the summer — like I had for the previous few years.

This was a time when Ireland was apparently recovering from the 1986 recession.

With my parents deciding to take us on the exotic trip to Wales, it showed things were moving away from times of watching the pennies to a time when you could afford to spend that bit extra on a holiday.

Was I aware of this at the time? Not in the slightest.

This trip to Wales is one of the best memories I have from my childhood, and as the years went by, Wales was followed with France, and then when things were really good we got to go to Florida.

Hard times in Ireland were never really an issue for me growing up.

Having been born in 1981 when Ireland hit recession times I was only five — not quite old enough to care that less money was available for meals out and there was less to spend on clothes.

The times I can remember, when I started to care about such things, were the boom years of the 1990s. TK Lemonade was swapped for 7Up, I owned a Benetton jumper and we even had a home computer.

My sister and myself got £1 pocket money from my dad every week that we saved in our bum bags. We had parties every year for our birthdays and if we were good we could watch Live and Kicking on a Saturday because we had multi-channel.

Besides the odd shell tracksuit, I never really wanted for anything growing up and have never felt like I lived through a recession. But now the ESRI tells us to be prepared for one again.

Does this mean we are heading back to the days of TK lemonade and packed lunches? Will we ever be able to afford to eat in restaurants again?

It’s no secret that times are tough, and as I push my trolley around Dunnes I am thinking more carefully than ever before about prices.

Years ago when I saw my mum do it, I thought I’d never choose a shampoo based on how much extra free was offered with it. But it’s happening.

It’s not depressing times in Ireland but it is thinking times. Times where we have to stop and say I may be able to afford this now but jobs are being lost and inflation is creeping upwards — will I be able to afford this in a few months?

Should I save now when I can — just in case?

And it’s this “just in case” scenario that’s holding people back — ever so slightly.

People are still partying, still eating out, and will continue to buy new clothes. But it’s uncharted territory for me and many others like me who have been lucky that good times are all we’ve ever known.


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