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"A very stylish affair."

Phoenix House, a "3G building"

Cork City's idle tower

Republic of Ireland, early 21st Century —

The Elysian from the northside, late 2009

The Elysian in Cork City is a three-acre complex including the tallest residential building in the country — a building that stands almost completely empty.

Conceived and funded in the late days of the "Celtic Tiger" economic frenzy, the project reached completion in September of 2008. The national economy was in collapse. Between groundbreaking and completion, the nationwide frenzy of borrowing and building stopped. Buying stopped. There were too many buildings, and not enough people with too much money.

Nearly every town and village across the country has a "ghost estate," a section of houses in various grades of incompletion — from a scaffolded four walls of concrete blocks on one end of an empty street to the finished house with stickers on the never-cleaned windows on the other. There's nobody to buy the completed houses, so none of the others are worth finishing. There's no more money to come from the banks, which have collapsed. And there's nobody who can restore the blighted fields to their earlier grassy state.

The Elysian, of course, did not wipe out grasslands that can now never be replaced. The Vikings did that (or the Anglo-Normans at the latest.) The Elysian replaced a postal sorting office.

The structure was built by the large Corkonian property and construction firm O'Flynn Group and funded by Allied Irish Bank. At the time of the establishment of the controversial National Asset Management Agency that nationalized unmanageable bank loans in late 2009, O'Flynn Construction was one of the top ten most-indebted property developers in the country. The €150 million cost of the Elysian was less than one one-hundredth of the debt that Michael O'Flynn and his company had incurred.

The workings of the taxpayer-funded bailout of the banks and how that affects the likes of the O'Flynn group is a matter for the experts. They're busy now, trying to explain why they didn't know that the economy was headed into a dead spin.

As of early 2011, the Elysian stands as an invitation to poetry about its metaphorical significance.

Some locals refer to it as "the idle tower," a reference to a nearby pub called "Idle Hour." This is a perpetuation of two ancient Irish traditions — word-play and the mockery of all that is pretentious.