Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and sits at a city population of 1.1mm with 1.9mm inhabiting the greater metropolitan area. The city boasts impressive architecture – especially in the many catholic churches, a diverse and international population, and draws tourists from all over the world. It is interesting to see how different the city is than London and how different the people are. With such an intertwined history, and so many shared values, one would expect the cities to be more closely aligned but the contrast is pronounced. The city is a true Irish expression of culture and possesses a unique, traditional yet gritty and bohemian feel.
I immediately sensed the prosperity buzzing in the city when driving into town. Innumerable cranes visible on the skyline and countless buildings neglected for generations are undergoing extensive renovations – a sign of the momentum sweeping up the city. Ireland has recently grown as a popular banking center and country of incorporation outside of the United States due to its favorable tax treatment. As a result, many of the largest multinational corporations technically call Dublin home. Additionally, the Brexit vote has moved many financial services firms out of London and into Ireland in order to maintain a close connection with the EU system. These recent developments have led to drastic improvements in the city.
That being said, there is still a very real element of poverty visible in the city and an obvious drug and alcohol epidemic. Amongst the new boutiques and high-end restaurants, you can observe many homeless and visibly intoxicated men and women living on the streets. This reality accurately describes the story of globalization – the prosperity filtering to the top and benefitting the middle but dimmer prospects for the bottom.
We spent a few days in Dublin wandering the streets and getting a feel for the people and the culture. We enjoyed a tour of the Guinness and Jameson factories as well as a quick walk through Trinity University – Irelands oldest university. We spent our first night out in one of the bars close to our apartment and got a few of our own requests in with the DJ. The second night we went out in what is known as the Temple Bar district which is widely considered the cultural and nightlife quarter of town. Going out on a Saturday night in the main nightlife quarter of a country so dedicated to the art of drinking was an experience I was not quite prepared for. When we ventured to the Temple Bar Pub- one of the most famous Pubs of the quarter, I was reminded of Bourbon Street in New Orleans or some of my days at ASU. We ultimately retreated to the patio and enjoyed watching the veritable United Nations of drunk people walk by. When we left around 1am it seemed like things were just starting to get underway. I have no doubt that Temple Bar roared through the night into the early hours of the morning.
In all honesty, I had an easier time getting my point across in South America speaking Spanish than in Ireland speaking English. Our accents are so far off that a lot gets lost in the mix. While Scotland had given me a good exposure to this, it was even more pronounced for me in Ireland. I was not expecting this at all and found it very interesting how wide a communication divide can exist within the same language.
After an adventurous week on the emerald Isle, we said our goodbyes to Rianna and Danielle and prepared to embark on the next phase of our trip. Ireland is a country to watch in the next few decades. It has a checkered past but I think it will see some prosperous days in the years to come. // Jeff