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How has Dublin changed for you ?

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I'm a Dubliner who has lived abroad for the past 18 years. I've seen Dublin change dramatically during this time both for the good and for the bad. What are your impressions of the changes that have taken place there ?

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    The Irish Republic's European Union membership with its 'Open Borders' and Ireland's generous asylum policies for people from non-EU States have brought a lot of undesirables to Dublin. It's a 'dumping place' for many unemployed and unemployable people.
    Add to that mix Asians and people from the Indian SubContinent brought in by Hi-Tech Industries to work for them in Dublin and other places in Ireland and you've got a potentially explosive situation. Many young Irish people see these immigrants taking high-paid jobs that they think should be theirs.

    I posted on this forum my experiences when I went to catch the 05:15 AirLink bus from O'Connell Street (at Abbey) to the airport: many homeless people sleeping on the ground and on stone benches.

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    I think many of the changes have been positive. Dublin was so lily white when I first went 15 years ago, now it's so much more multi-cultural.

    It seemd like a sleepy town back then, and now it's definitely a thriving city.

    Although the economy has slowed in the past couple of years, you still have young Irish returning to Ireland from abroad because there are jobs and opportunities there now. Of course, they can no longer afford to buy a house in Dublin, even with those jobs.

    Traffic is even worse, particulary since they put the one-way system into use, with confusing and misleading signs all over the city.

    Don't know how much progress has been made on the drug problem--it was awful 15 years ago, and don't know that they've made much headway in that time.

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    I've been a frequent traveler to Dublin since 1993. Like Ann, I found Ireland so "lily white" then and have definitely seen the difference over time. I think that and the fact that things are outrageously priced there now (our poor exchange rate notwithstanding) are really the only differences in my eyes. I still love the city and those I've met there.

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    First, remember that any "how has...changed?" question probably gets an answer that tells you as much about the respondent as about the thing that might have changed.

    I've been a tourist or business visitor to Dublin for the past 40 years

    40 years ago, Dublin was exotic. It had no Blitz damage (and no horrid modern buildings filling in Hitler's gaps), it had public signs in a language (and a script) less understandable than anywhere in Western Europe (even Greece),and it had shops wholly unfamiliar to an Englishman (except for Dunnes'notorious similarity to M+S ). And I have to say, it felt rather stand-offish (I have a voice that sounds English and posh to many inhabitants of these islands). It was, in the mid-60s, less racially mixed than my part of England.

    And it was really a bit backward. even by the standards of provincial England. My friend Keith, whose interest in women's fashions caused fewer raised eyebrows in those innocent days, told us that Brown + Thomas was very behind the trend: the rest of us noticed that the teenage style revolution we were living through really hadn't crossed the Irish Sea.

    People stood up for the National Anthem in cinemas. They followed sports no-one had ever heard of. Only the money seemed the same.

    Obviously places are coming closer to each other. But Dublin isn't now just another European city: it increasingly feels like just another British city. The pub culture, the nightime crowds of young people, the vile modern buildings (I still regard the Bank of Ireland as new), the shape of the streets, the dismal housing estates ringing the city, the really repulsive local fastfood chains (like Abrakebabra), the touching faith in an expensive new tram system, and the relative integration of many immigrant groups - these are all similarities Dublin has to the big British provincial cities, rather than to Barcelona or Lyons.

    This isn't wholly bad (Brown + Thomas is now Europe's most interesting medium-size store, the Chester Beatty is probably Europe's best recent museum since it's put its energy into stunning content rather than faddish architecture, and I'd rather have Britain's and Ireland's attitude to immigrants than most of the Continent's), though Abrakebabra would have been described as a sin crying out to God for punishment when teaching was based on the Catechism and little else. Dublin now has just about the nicest staff tourists meet anywhere in Europe or North America: it's not at all stand-offish.

    And it's not all UK neo-colonisation: Selfridge's is getting better since B+T effectively took it over, Ryanair has transformed Britain as much as Ireland, and Dunnes now competes with M+S on M+S' home turf.

    But the version of football the rest of the world plays, BBC/Sky/Granada, The Sunday Times and Tesco have seriously changed Dublin just as much as the horrible redevelopers. And as Scotland moves slowly away from England, pretty much the only ways you can tell you're in a Dublin pub, and not in one in Glasgow or Edinburgh, are the near-impossibilty of getting proper G+T (ie Gordon's and Schweppes) in Dublin, the infinite superiority of Dublin Guinness - and the outrageous prices you inflict on yourselves for necessities like booze.

    Actually, Dublin is a better, less provincial, place to visit these days (and if some Providence could wipe out all Abrakebaras at a stroke it'd be miles better still as they say in your mirror image city). I just wish it wasn't quite as identical to Liverpool and Glasgow as it's become.

    BTW, Ireland's enlightened attitude to immigration (one that Germany, France, Holland and Sweden don't share, for all their obsession with preaching to the rest of the world) doesn't at all create an explosive mix. Any more than Ireland's exporting of the "unemployable" (like my grandparents) did in Sydney, New York, Liverpool or Munich in the days before the Celtic Tiger. There's a generosity about Ireland these days that wasn't so noticeable in De Valera's day (and clearly still isn't around wherever Nedsireland lives).

    And there's a reason for that. Unemployment has been lower in Ireland than in the USA for some time - even though Ireland has none of the preposterous protectionist policies the US seems so bizarrely in love with.

    It's a lot less exotic. It's an infinitely nicer place. But somehow, I suspect life for Dublin's druggies is a lot worse than it was even for the poorest, most priest-ridden, in the bad old days.

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    flanneruk writes: "There's a generosity about Ireland these days that wasn't so noticeable in De Valera's day (and clearly still isn't around wherever Nedsireland lives)."

    You cover a long time frame there.

    FYI: I live in Philadelphia (USA) and have been to Dublin several times, the first in 1952 when I was stationed in England with the US Air Force. I used to visit Ireland about twice a year. My most recent visits to Dublin were in 2001 and 2003. I also used to like Dublin but now I don't know if I will ever return.

    I spoke with many Irish people who are against the Government's 'free money' (i.e., 400 Euro 'Grants') to people coming to Ireland for 'asylum'. Part of the Irish peoples' negativety comes from reading newspaper articles (as I have read in the Irish Sunday Independent) exposing 'double dippers' (coming from Albania, then Romania) claiming asylum more than once and getting a 'Grant' each time. The system has its flaws and people are taking advantage of them.

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    Ned once again I hvae to point out that you must have been talking to some really uneducated and possibly racist people when you were over here and I fear you share their racist views from your past postings about Dublin.

    1. You read an article when you were here in the Independant..this is one article on one day and not representative of the country.
    2. Many people are happy that Ireland is becoming a modern european city and it welcoming change a lot easier than other countries. We like to experience new foods, people etc. Moore street now sells half asian/eastern European food and it has brought life to a dying market.

    This free money scheme I have yet to see anything about in the papers as so few Romanians and Albanians enter these days. Its too difficult and would cost them more than 400 euro to get here either legal or illegal. Many refugees have a trade and are not allowed to work as our rules are so backward and we need people to work in certain services industries that could provide some sort of an income to someone who wants to work while they await their status.

    You must stop taking things at face value and see the layers underneath. Life is not black and white and certainly not in Dublin.

    Lenci - It has vastly changed and mostly for the better for me over the years. The rapid change is worrying but people seem to embrace it. I never thought there would be a tram in the city and I use this every day now! I do hope the changes slow a bit down and move in a steady pace for the next few years.

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    'how has Dublin changed?' and someone who doesn't even live here launched into the predictable rant about how we hate assylum seekers.

    It's simply not true.

    You say 'dumping ground' - we say hooray for the new multi cultural ireland.

    You say 'immigrants taking our hi paid jobs' - we say if you're qualified and reliable and can contribute to the benefit of the company you got the job.

    i respect that you've based your comments on conversations you had while on holiday here or things you've read in the paper ..... but let me tell you from someone who lives here, from someone who works here - as far as my friends and family are concerned we are more worked up about the traffic congestion and high price of going out for a meal than the possibility of the city becoming overun with unemployable Romanians.

    They say you can't stop progress - so we work harder, we pay more, we see more wealth, and more poverty, we have more opportunities and are able to give new opportunities to those needing protection.

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    Thank you leisa! I just read a small Article about Luke Kelly today and a statue being erected for him. Someone who knew him in his day said he always helped the underdog. That I think is an element of our culture. We love the underdog because we have often been seen as this. The underdog is now running a better show but we still empathise with those who have struggles in the world economically, culturally etc. Most Irish in the 80's were economics refugees if you want to give a similar reference to those here. The students came to Boston earlier than me in the summer and took the jobs spooner...was I annoyed?..no that's life and I made some friends when I finally found a job after exams. In the 90's most Irish travelled for 1-2 years by choice and still do. We rarely have problems travelling as we are open to people and from my experience we are respectful even if we may have a few pints when roaming :-).

    I love what we are evolving into, There is an Italian quarter in the millienium/bloom quarter, organic/food markets at weekends selling Mexican, Spanish, Italian, & Japanese food along with Irish food. Moore street give the more exotic foods and veg with the traditional Moore street traders. Salsa weekends in temple bar in the summer, Asian movie festivals in the IFI. How wonderful that we can at least get all this in a small city.

    There is much or more trouble from Irish city kids then there are from immigrant kids. Our little angels stabbed a frenchman on the 39 bus last week. I lived on this route all summer near the stop this happened and I am not surprised. You will not see this as a tourist as it is safe in the city much more with the trams and more movement in the evenings. Ok off my pedestal now! :-) Anyone for a pint?

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    nedsireland -- OK I really tried not to respond to you and if you had only offended me and not my wife I probably would have let it go - my wife is Japanese American born and raised in the United States - she loves Ireland and whenever we return home and people ask her what she likes about Ireland the first thing she say is "the people are all so friendly" so it appears the Irish have not yet discovered their land is being torn asunder by an influx of Asians.
    Do me a favor please the next time you go to one of your meetings please send me a picture of you in your sheet and hood.
    To the rest of you people on this net my sincere apology for my outburst
    Lizard

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    What I find amusing is the Asians he refers to are mostly Chinese students over to study English or attend University. Foreign students can work up to 20 hours a week and this has been a benefit to the workforce as the students fill a gap in jobs that are not full time or highly skilled but still need to be filled. As well they get to practice their language skills. These people are smart well educated and polite. Also they are not here permanently as they would not be able to emigrate from China easily. The other Asian population is Philipino and mostly female as many of the ladies are nurses brought over due to the nursing shortage. Neither sould like refugees to me!

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    I wish to apologize to all those who took offense at my comments. I was addressing a question from "a Dubliner who has lived abroad for the past 18 years" (i.e., since 1985); I have seen many changes and was calling things as I saw them.

    SiobhanP writes: "What I find amusing is the Asians he refers to are mostly Chinese students over to study English or attend University."
    No! Those are not the Asians to whom I referred. Go back and read my first 'post' on this thread: "... Asians and people from the Indian SubContinent brought in by Hi-Tech Industries to work for them in Dublin and other places in Ireland ... " Many hi-tech Companies that fueled the Celtic Tiger brought in their Software Engineers / Designers. Those are the people to whom I referred. And I never wrote anything denigratory to Asians in Ireland (as lizard implies).

    In another post, SiobhanP writes: "You must stop taking things at face value and see the layers underneath. Life is not black and white and certainly not in Dublin." I see things, hear things and read things. Then I analyze them and reach conclusions. "Face value" is the only measure I have ...

    I can't predict what is ahead, now that the 'Celtic Tiger' has subsided. Can you?

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    Ned,

    I am a product of the Celtic Tiger. I worked in the large technology company that was at the peak of the tiger and burst. We hired some Indian developers on contract to do the easier development jobs and our guys to do the rest creating a product. they were only hired because we could NOT get any junior developers. It was good for us and them. I don't know of anyone doing this anymore and the only asians are British over here with their company working. I have heard this is more the case in America and Britain. Its a small place here and it would be noticible if there were large groups coming here to work. From my perspective its small and totally not explosive and I see no major envy of jobs that foreigners have here.

    The Celtic Tiger seem to be rearing its head slowly again and there looks like there ould be another on a smaller, slower scale this time. We had a higher growth rate than most of the other european countries last year so this seems good.

    Ned I just think you tend to see the worst and I know these are your experiences but this does not define all people in Dublin or the city itself. It is not a city of undesirables and refugees but slowing becoming a mix of people just like may places in the world.

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    NEDSIRELAND - Well in the cool light of a new day I reread your comments and response to others reactions. You have stated "And I never wrote anything denigratory to Asians in Ireland (as Lizard implies)". Perhaps you really believe that and if that is the case - then I can accept it - However, when you write "add to that mix Asians........and you have a potentially explosive situation" I don't how it can be taken as anything other than denigratory even if that is not what you meant - and I accept your word that is not what you meant.

    With that said I have one more statement and then I am going to drop this issue---

    My asking for a picture of you in your sheet and hood was totally inappropriate and uncalled for - I am ashamed of myself - and offer you my apology.
    Lizard

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    We first visited Dublin in 1989. We returned in 2003 and 2004. It has gone from a charming small town to a bustling city.

    Dublin has made a strenuous effort to preserve historic places. You still can get a deep sense of Ireland's history by walking about the City.

    Siobhan is most wise and one of my favorite sources for information on Dublin and Ireland. I would be interested in her opinion on something that I noticed over the last 15 years:

    -Religion, at least overt expression of it, seems in decline. Churches that were once filled now are partly empty. Staying at A B&B in the countryside its proprietor volunteered to drive us to Church but failed in coaxing her 15 year old daughter to come with her and attend church. Religion is a bit on the run, for various reasons, all over the world.

    To what in Ireland in partcular, might you attribute this? Films like the'Madalegne Sisters; Clergy scandals; 'Prosperity'?

    Just a question, no agenda on this end. Thanks.

    Anthony

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    Powell - I think that you will get many different anwsers to this question, but IMO the wealth and prosperity of the new tiger economy, coupled with the many, many scandles in the Catholic church has caused a downturn in Irish people participating in organised religion/religious services and their faith in the institutional church.

    Pre 1980's Ireland the church and state where intrinsically linked. The Catholic church/bishops had a very heavy hand in the design and implementation of the Irish constitution. There was a reliance, born out of fear and to a certain extent ignorance, on the church to guide not only religious practice but also every day life of the Irish public.

    The first cracks in this 'institution' came about as a result of the many sexual scandles perpetrated by the Irish clergy. The unquestioned trust the Irish people had in the church and their bishops to guide them morally and spiritually was shaken. This in combination with an increasingly highly educated young population created an environment where the Irish public began to ask questions of the church and its bishops that they could no longer give adequate and reasonable answers to.

    The recent Celtic Tiger has given the Irish public a new sense of confidence in themselves and Ireland on the world stage and the Catholic church is now viewed as out of touch and hypocritical.

    A long winded post but I would have to finish by saying that i live in Dublin and am a practicing Catholic who has serious questions to ask of the established Irish church as an instituion. There does seem to be a city/rural divide on this. I attend a church in Dublin that is located in a student district of Dublin where there are a high number of rural young students. At the evening mass I attend the church is full, with only standing room available. The church holds up to 1000 people. This is the exception, not the rule.

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    While multiculturalism often brings interest and liveliness to a region, there is nothing inherently evil about a country being predominantly of one skin colour. This is the norm for most of the planet, notably the countries with 1/3 of the global population - India and China.

    That said, Ned, I must disagree that the woes of the Celtic Tiger had as much to do with immigration as you imply. The end of that boom was one of the few economic outcomes I actually predicted correctly, for a change (too bad I didn't short-sell anything! :) ) The 'Celtic Tiger' - indeed any other high tech tiger - is almost invariably an illusion - high tech industries (at least those predominantly dealing with software development) are not rooted in any local geographic resource, and thus can easily be moved to the country of the next lowest bidder for the necessary talent.

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    Powell,

    I find it surprising when I go back to the states how religious Irish Americans are and how they dutifully go to mass. Over the years I have slowly stopped going as I feel it does not reach out to the current generation. I go when I need a quiet place to think. Some older people as well seem to be questioning the church but still have the habit of going to mass.

    Personally I have a hard time with the things that have happened in the church that are coming out now, th Madgalene Laundries (The last one closed in the early 70's)

    My mother and father both have bad memories of the priests and nuns from school as they often were physically abusive and allowed to slap or hit the children. My mother did say though many she felt were forced into being nuns as there were probably too many children in their own family and the parents were unable to care for them and encouraged them to join the nuns. She felt that some of them took out their frustration on the children. There were MANY lovely and kind nuns as well she stressed. She is in her 60's now and a regular churchgoer.

    The church had a lot of control over society to keep the moral code going and often had too much power and could take your children away if you were a single parent and they did not appove of your parenting and said you were unfit. It was not that long ago this happened.

    I think for many young people, having an unmarried man who could be 30-40 years older than you give advice on your marital life and believe that a woman is a sinner who must go to mass after having a child is offensive to us. The nuns are usually in the background and would be far better facilitators for people.

    I have a few relatives in the church and they are lovely devoted priests and nuns and I respect them and I am glad they will openly talk about anything. This still does not make me feel closer to the church.

    I think the respect is gone and the youth and this will make it more difficult over the years. I am more a spiritual person that religious these days from my own feeling about the church. I am in my 30's and none of my friends go to mass other than for a wedding and my partner refuses to take communion as he feels hypocritical doing this because he really does not believe anymore. The church seems more conservative in Rome of late and it will alienate people more.

    Ireland is more accepting now of single partes children born to unmarried couple etc. The treatement of these people in te past was shocking and it seems to have had an affect of turning people the opposite.

    If I did find a church with a younger priest who spoke of matters that affected me I would consider going...I have even considered going to a mass a the Protestant church up the road as it is an amazing old church and I wanted to see if it was different in Ireland. I have gone to evey denomination in the U.S> with friends or at weddings as most people I knew were not catholic. My partners mother will probably keel over! :-)

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    SiobhanP - Im not a religous freak, I promise - but come to Rathmines Catholic Church for the 6pm Sunday Folk mass and I'm sure you'll find something to keep you coming back!

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    I am a great admirer of people who go often and gain something from the experience but it is always missing for me. Whether its christian, buddhist or hindu.

    I've been to that church to light a candle on Sept 11th but in general it does not draw me. Its lovely inside.

    Back to Ireland and the changes.......................


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    Siobhan is spot on. People used to fear the church, and most went to Mass because they were scared not to. Now people make their own decisions, and go to Mass because they get something from it. And if you go into any church on a Saturday night, it's packed full of people who like going on Saturday evening: you can go out straight afterward and don't have to get up for mass after a late night!

    My husband still remembers the priest telling the boys to stay away from Protestant girls because they were easy! He also remembers how his mother used to put a pound in the collection every Sunday without fail, even though that often meant they didn't have any money left for food. That was very common, again, because people were scared not to put something in the collection plate.

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    Actually, Sue, the high tech industry in Ireland is very grounded in Ireland's greatest resource: its people. Ireland has a very well educated work force, which is why the tech companies came there in the first place. Sure, some companies have moved their call centres to India, but many of those same companies have since then moved their call centres back to Ireland because of the many problems they encountered. And the call centres are really the main segment of the tech industry that is in danger of being relocated, rather than the heart of the industry.

    And just look at the evidence: Microsoft, amongst others, continue to expand their presence in Ireland.

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    Thanks, Siobhan, all, for the opinions on religion in Ireland. It just interested me since the change was so noticeable.

    Another change we were told about was that the music 'scene' is moving west from Dublin to Galway, etc. My wife and I met a composer who we knew when he lived in the States for 8 years, but now claims life in Dublin, since his return, is not as welcoming for a music artist as it once was. Any comment? Is it due to artists now being taxed?

    One final point; the Irish, person for person, are the friendliest people on the planet. The Irish will change immigrants for the better if these immigrants are wise enough to observe and emulate Gaelic civility. Immigrants made, and still make, America tha great country we are.

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    Ann41 Too funny what they told the kids...some things from what I heard were awful and the poor kids believed this stuff for years.

    My parents too gave more money than they could afford when I was growing up in the states. I think it was a matter of pride as well so she would not look like the cheap Irish family. She always said that you have to be shown as a contribing family in order to get married in the church later...?? None of us so far has been married there and I doubt I will now living so far away. I would be shocked to see she was giving 20 (10 each collection) as we could definately not afford it and it really annoyed me.

    Powell, I am not any expert on the music industry and most that I know are in BAnds and they try to travel outside Ireland to get a name for themselves. AS far as I knew artists were not taxed but that may have changed...god I thought about becoming a potter/artist/whatever when I first heard that! He would not be as busy here because there is probably not as much work for a composer in a country of only 4.5 million. The arts don't seem to be getting much money these days as they cant's justify it when there are not ewnough hospital beds and other serious issues at the moment. The arts always suffer in any country in slow times. A friend of mine was/is an artist but re-tained in the beauty industry as she was not able to make a regular income. It's hard to get a mortgage when you do not have a regular guaranteed income.

    Our opera fest in Dublin is only about a week. They could not sustain ticket sales and pay the singers from abroad who come over for the leads if they had a longer run as they would not be sold out.

    That's the one price we pay for a small population.

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    Wonderful to read how Dublin invokes such feelings and stirs the pot of conflict, but people please just simply answer the question, geez. I really enjoy walking around Dublin. It is growing very fast and the traffic is horrible, but you can just walk. I think that it is a wonderful place that oozes with culture both irish and from the continent. You can't have all things in all places. I enjoy it for what it offers. Me thinks this board does protest too much:)

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