It is pretty difficult to predict when this recession is gonna end and things will be back to normal. There are some specialists though who also predicted the beginning of it and have some theories about it. They compare this Irish recession to two distinct ones: one in Japan that lasted for over 20 years and the one in Finland where the stock market and housing prices fell by 50%. Now, they say that we are close to reaching the bottom where some properties prices are already around 50% less than 3, 4 years ago (http://www.daft.ie/report/). So, one of these theories says that we will have a 3-year-period of stagnation and by 2015 we will see some increase in value . The most affected were the people that bought houses between 2004 and 2007. Some of them are struggling to survive and can barely pay their mortgages. Sad...
Now, the good news is for those who've been planning to buy a house for ages or at least can afford to invest in properties for the next few years. As per these specialists it is very unlikely that this recession is gonna last like the one in Japan and it is more likely that is gonna be like the one in Finland, that lasted for about 4, 5 years. On the other hand new investors will find difficulty in get mortgages from the banks. The alternatives (in my opinion) would be to save some money(enough to buy a land) and/or rent to buy houses (for more info: http://renttobuy.ebookireland.com/).
Finally, there are always good opportunities in times where everything seems bad.
Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1. (Warren Buffet)