pounds 1m homes go within hours

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The Independent Online
DUBLIN'S BOOMING economy reached a new high-water mark when 16 new homes - each with a pounds 1m price tag - were sold yesterday within hours of going on the market.

The buyers were mainly professional couples in their 30s, prompting acid comments about the Republic's emerging young "O'Ligarchy".

The houses are in the southern suburb of Carrickmines, many miles from central Dublin where a forest of construction cranes has sprouted as evidence of Ireland's remarkable renaissance. The country is expected to have growth of 8 to 10 per cent in 1999. This is admittedly down from an unparalleled 12 per cent last year, but it builds on double-digit growth stretching back almost to the beginning of the decade.

House prices across the Irish capital doubled between 1994 and 1997, and, in some cases, have doubled again since. The price of a standard semi in outer suburbia now begins at pounds 130,000 - heady gains from the days when artisan dwellings barely a mile from Molly Mallone's statue in the town centre sold for only pounds 42,000.

The financial muscles of the young people behind the property boom stem from a surge in entrepreneurship. This, in turn, is the fruit of a hugely improved education system and the shedding of a one-time national inferiority complex. These entrepreneurs are now making money hand over fist.

Most of the money comes from export earnings garnered from fashion, music, marketing and, overwhelmingly, information technology.

Dubliners stuck in old-style, fixed-salary jobs have not seen the same gains, and the result is an increasingly two-tier society in which property prices have spiralled beyond the reach of those on more modest incomes.