This article examines social resilience to the economic crisis and recession across three ‘generational cohorts’ of Irish people, using a mixed biographical life course approach. Drawing on narrative interviews and individual lifelines conducted as part of a cross-national European study, we describe and explain how age-differentiated lives and times intersected with ill-timed transitions and patterns of inter-generational relations, leading to variations in resilient future orientations. Our analysis yields three key findings. First, failed expectations for intra-generational social mobility, combined with inter-generational obligations, gave rise to negative future orientations amongst those in mid-life. Second, the crisis created multiple negative life changes that compounded the accumulated costs of poorly timed transitions and adverse experiences within biographies. The effect of this varied by generational cohort, life course stage (with its implications for inter-generational obligations), gender and social class. Third, both life course stage and biographical experience affected peoples’ orientations towards the future, with implications for their resilience.