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This article is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

On ‘Making Money’ Paula Meehan
When I first read ‘Making Money’, in The Paris Review in 2001, it was a crystallising experience. The poem did not only speak of the historical moment of its setting, a hundred years ago at the turn from the nineteenth into the twentieth century, but also by implication spoke to what was the particular present moment in turn-of-the-millennium Ireland. We were suffering a turbocharged development cycle that like a juggernaut was powering through the cities and the hinterlands alike.

The poem is set in Dundrum, a topos and a polis already familiar to Eavan Boland’s readers: the suburb she made her home in with her husband Kevin Casey, raised her girls in, the suburb at the edge of the city under the mountains, haunted by the ghosts of the last wolves, the suburb that by the time the poem is written has become the site of a massive development project. Here will be built the biggest temple to Mammon, symbol of all the mismanaged wealth of the Celtic tiger, what’s now known as the Dundrum Town Centre. The Centre has offered a new slang word to English as she is spoke here in Dublin – Drummies, the shopaholic mall rats of all ages who orient themselves by a map of retail opportunities.

‘Making Money’ traces the journey of the mill workers from their humble mill cottages one dawn, or rather ‘the ugly first hour after dawn’, at the end of summer. The mill wheel is powered by the braided rivers, including the River Slang (oh what poet ...

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