Finding the ‘lost generation’

Letters to the Editor, The Irish Times, 21/07/2010

Madam, – Shane Fitzgerald (Opinion, July 15th) repeats the phrase “lost generation” in reference to those Irish who have emigrated as a result of the recession.

I find such epitaphs, solemnly pronounced by journalists and commentators, somewhat premature. We who have left have abdicated neither our right nor our responsibility to determine the future of our country. The causes of and solutions to our current situation are being debated just as fervently in London, Paris and Sydney as at home. In any generation there will always be those who are apathetic, just as there will always be those who pontificate from the sidelines.

It may be useful to note that the phrase “lost generation” was originally popularised by Ernest Hemingway, describing young expatriates living in Paris after the first World War. In fact Hemingway believed his generation to have been “battered” – not lost. Surrounded by the energy and enthusiasm of my peers to put right the failures of previous generations, I’m reminded of Hemingway’s words in The Sun Also Rises : “Who is calling who a lost generation?” – yours, etc,

AIDAN Mac GUILL,

Rue du General Guilhem,

Paris, France.