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Is Dublin better or worse than before? Plus and negative points + my opinions in a radio interview MP3

I've heard people say 'I can't stand Dublin now' but is the criticism justified? I've been visiting Dublin since my early childhood and studied languages at Trinity College Dublin between 1976 and 1981. I've seen some remarkable changes, but do the latest ones mean that Dublin should be avoided at all costs? Here I list some plus and minus points and provide my personal opinion on post-Celtic Tiger Dublin.

Radio interview on Dublin Spin 1038
Listen to a radio interview I did with Clare McKenna and Jonathan McCrea of Dublin-based radio station Spin 1038 www.spin1038.com. They contacted me after finding this page via Google. I talk about my impressions of Dublin past and present, including modern architecture, Bewleys, chain stores, and things once typical of Dublin you wouldn't find today, like the grumpy B&B landlady who told off a friend of mine for using up all the bathwater. I was interviewed at 2pm Monday 26 June 2007. Many thanks to www.spin1038.com.

Click here to download and listen to the MP3 First the negative points:

Dublin has a very high cost of living. It's the 16th most expensive city in the world according to the 2007 Mercer Human Resources Consulting survey. Property is very expensive, and so is rented accommodation.

Dublin's traffic situation is often very difficult. There is often severe congestion as the road network is straining to keep up with the increase in traffic. Roadworks cause further delays.

Dublin has lost much of its unique character and heritage. Though Bewley's Grafton Street coffee shop has re-opened, the Westmoreland St branch remains closed, the exterior covered in graffiti. Despite the planning laws, many buildings are under threat.
The city centre is often crowded and boisterous at night, with many loud and drunken people filling the streets, for example in the Temple Bar district.
There is a severe problem of homelessness and drug addiction. You will often find people lying unconscious on the street or sleeping in doorways.
Dublin is becoming bigger and bigger, spreading relentlessly westwards into former country districts.
New development is often bland and faceless. In the area of residential housing, a new uniformity has taken over.
People are more materialistic than they ever used to be. In the opinion of some people, standards have fallen, traditional Irish values have been thrown out.

Now the plus points:

Dublin is one of the most prosperous cities in the world, with many job and business opportunities.
As well as traditional housing, there are many new and stylish contemporary housing developments becoming available.
Dublin has a good public transport system, that's state administered and relatively cheap to travel on. The Dart is a groundbreaking and highly successful suburban rail service, a vast improvement on the diesel-hauled trains with plastic seats. Luas is a state-of-the-art tram system that is the envy of many cities.
Dublin is still basically the same and retains all its positive aspects, the architecture, the parks, the Georgian squares, the River Liffey vistas, the beautiful suburbs, the proximity to the sea and lots more.
There have been some notable improvements such as the Liffey Boardwalk, layout changes on O'Connell Street, pedestrianisation of streets, and more. Dublin city centre is a more pleasant and attractive place than it has ever been.
Dublin is getting bigger and bigger, but what's wrong with that? It's just developing in step with the economic development of the country. Why shouldn't it expand like other cities?
People are still basically the same, but the atmosphere is far more cosmopolitan. There are people here from every country on earth, or so it seems.
Dublin's night life is as good as any other city, if not better. Dublin and the Republic of Ireland pioneered the ban on smoking in public places.

So much for the arguments for and against, what do I think?
Many say they have an affection for the Dublin of old, but let's not forget that for many years it lagged far behind cities in the UK and the US, as if caught in a time warp. Though the historic, central districts were magnificent then, as now, many other parts of the Dublin were in a ramshackle, derelict state and had a deeply depressing atmosphere - for example the area along the Quays near Heuston Station. The Liffey had a green colour from the pollution and there were black lumps floating in it. I am recalling my own memories here!

Do people really want to go back to all that? Now Dublin is sharing in the economic prosperity that is sweeping many parts of Europe and the US. But economic development always comes at a price. Yes, some things have been lost - and we should strive to prevent further erosion of the city's unique character - but on balance, many things are better. It's still basically the same city, and the same people are living there - supplemented by huge numbers of others from all over the world.

So why not enjoy the positive aspects: Dublin is an interesting, appealing, cultural, cool, cosmopolitan city where people from any country can feel welcome and have a great time.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2007-06-17

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