In 2006, a previously unknown Irish technology company by the name of Steorn created headlines globally when it took out a full-page ad in The Economist, in which it claimed to have made the scientific breakthrough of this – or any other – century: perpetual motion, nothing less than a complete and immediate solution to the global energy crisis.
The investment money poured in, with some of Ireland’s most respected entrepreneurs and institutions getting on board, but the demonstration was a spectacular failure. So how did so many well-meaning and otherwise sensible people get things so desperately, absurdly wrong? The story begins with a malfunctioning CCTV system and ends with an exploding battery, and it drives home Ireland’s frenzied state of mind during the Celtic Tiger years.
‘A compelling and frequently bizarre read’ – The Sunday Times (Ireland Edition)
‘The Impossible Dream, Barry J Whyte’s new book about the rise and fall of what he describes as “the Celtic Tiger’s most audacious start-up”, proves once again that not all publicity is good publicity. It also shows that smart people can be as likely as fools to be easily parted with their money.’ – Irish Times
Whyte brilliantly sets the context in which Steorn was first active, a time when it suddenly didn’t seem strange to hear of taxi drivers buying apartments in Bulgaria. – Irish Times
While there is some technical jargon and deep dives of company documents to wade through, The Impossible Dream is for the most part an easy-to-read yarn that firmly places the ascent and crash of Steorn within the context of the Celtic Tiger era. - Irish Times
It’s hard to explain to anybody who wasn’t here just how cash-drunk most of Ireland became during the heady, reckless days when the Celtic Tiger’s roar was full-throated and it seemed the good times would never end. Barry J Whyte manages to capture the mood of the times, as he provides background on the country’s “most audacious startup” from those gluttonous days. – The Business Post
The Steorn story is fascinating, although it sometimes feels like the equivalent of rubber-necking at a car accident as you drive slowly by; it’s excruciating, but you can’t turn away from what is essentially a parable for our times. – The Business Post
‘An extraordinary story and a fascinating book’ – Pat Kenny
Barry J. Whyte is an award-winning journalist and author. He is currently Chief Features Writer for the Business Post.