After more than a decade of economic growth that earned Ireland the moniker the “Celtic Tiger” the Irish economy has hit the skidders. Spurred on by a boom-bust housing market and surrounding banking practices it has slid downward since mid 2008. On November 22nd, Ireland”s coalition government accepted a financial aid package estimated between 80-90 billon euros ($100-123 billion) from the European Union (EU). EU officials had been pitching and pushing the aid package to help bailout Ireland with the broader goal of stabilizing the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and keep it from spreading to other financially shaky countries, i.e. Portugal and Spain. After initial enthusiasm for the bailout/loan waned, financial markets in Europe and U.S. fell as investors following the money realized that it did not come from an endless pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but rather from a stressed EU debt load. As Irish citizens call for the proverbial heads of politicians, bankers, and the usual suspects, others try to reassure that all will be well. Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said on ITN on the day of the bailout, “I have no doubt that with this external assistance Ireland will emerge from this stronger, better, and leaner.” But, perhaps the best rallying cry can be heard from Dublin based graphic designer Fergus O”Neill who created a series of posters which bore the slogan “Keep Going Sure it”s Grand” Taking his cue from the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters produced by the British government during World War II, O”Neill”s quintessentially Irish version is quietly finding its way into homes, offices and businesses across the world as people do their best to get on with things and keep going. He suggests that his posters express a typically Irish attitude. “The posters reflect something which I believe is in the very fabric of being Irish, if that’s good or bad you can decide – I personally believe it’s a good thing, it’s what makes us Irish. We’re NOT French and we’re NOT Greek. Thank Christ!” The “Grand” scheme is not only designed for sales and solace ” O”Neill thinks that he has come up with a solution to help Ireland”s banking crisis. “I’m giving one euro back to the state for every one of my signed and editioned (limited edition of 42 billion) posters sold and my objective is to sell 42 billion posters thus half solving the banking crisis.” A weekly count of monies earmarked for the state along with Department of Finance receipts, have been tracked on the Keep Going facebook page which has attracted almost 3,000 followers worldwide since its foundation last month. O”Neill hopes that a positive message to Irish people home and abroad can be communicated and said, “The bid to sell 42 billion of these posters may seem absurd but it can be deemed no more absurd than the outrageous practices and policies that landed us here. There is little we can do except be ourselves and get on with it.” He added, “What I’m doing is something rather than waiting for something to be done. How can he sell 42 billion posters you may well snicker? Well I have a plan … a very big plan.” So far the plan seems to be working, “The posters are selling quite well. I have sold them to addresses in Scotland, all over the UK, Denmark, Spain, France, Austria, New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and from Clonshaugh to Ballyhooly.” “Keep Going” postcards are also available online and more products in the pipeline including toilet seats and doormats. O”Neill”s “really Irish poster” with slightly different wording is also available to see and order online (If you”re Irish you can guess). When asked in jest by the Celtic Connection if he were to sell all 42 billon posters, would he not be in a position to purchase Ireland and declare himself King, he responded in kind. “I wouldn’t be comfortable as ‘King’ I’m too humble, perhaps some kind of feudal Chief.” The original hand-crafted screen prints are currently available online from http://grandgrand.bigcartel.com both framed and unframed, along with postcards and tote bags and will ship worldwide. Patrons are being urged to display their posters with pride and above all to Keep Going”Sure It”s Grand. (December 2010 Celtic Connection, Denver CO) Buy at: http://grandgrand.bigcartel.com/ Find on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-Going-Sure-Its-Grand/130806596969418

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