The word “renaissance” may bring to mind images of Leonardo da Vinci paintings and the rolling hills of Italy, but today, a new European revival is underway – only this time, it originates in the manufacturing facilities of Ireland.

The manufacturing landscape is evolving as the global economy steps into a fragile recovery.

Against the backdrop of the eurozone debt crisis and volatile commodity prices, multinationals are now having to perfect the art of manufacturing amid increasing uncertainty.

Ireland was one of the fastest growing European economies (though briefly it was also one of the most expensive), but suffered a major collapse starting in 2008. However, today its costs are rapidly coming back into line and Irish manufacturing companies are again becoming competitive.

Ireland, like much of Europe, realizes that the credit-fueled excesses of the past are now over and a more tangible economic model must emerge. It is very much about countries learning to pay their way in the global marketplace.

The Irish industrial strategy centers on transitioning manufacturing to increasingly complex, high value-add operations that are knowledge, skills and capital intensive. This transformation, in conjunction with foreign direct investment, has been vital for stimulating the economy and fueling a vibrant rebirth of the sector.

As the only European country to show month-to-month growth in its factories, Ireland has established itself as the new focal point of global manufacturing. This insight seems to contrast with conventional perceptions that manufacturing activity is only expanding in emerging markets such as China or recovering economies such as the U.S. and Eastern Europe.

For example, manufacturing downturns plagued the eurozone in September as overall manufacturing production declined for the seventh consecutive month. France and Austria saw the deepest drop in activity while Italy and Spain showed positive movement – although not enough to indicate expansion in their sectors. Not even Germany, the engine of Europe, was spared as it experienced a steep decline in new export work.

Meanwhile, manufacturing in China shrank in September as the volume of new orders decreased for the eleventh consecutive month. The U.S. fared better, with its manufacturing activity expanding modestly for the first time in four months, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Still, the September data indicated sluggish, unsteady growth amid a weak global economy and uncertain political environment.