In 2009 Dublin was ranked as the 10th richest city in the world (and the 5th richest in 2008) - it may be booming but it ain't cheap. Ireland's capital, the ‘durty aul town,’ now gleams with fusion restaurants, trendy coffee shops, juice bars, BMW showrooms, minimalist hotels – and celebs (look out for Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore or Robert DeNiro). Over 1.5 million people – that’s nearly half the country – now live in the city, and it’s an astonishingly young population, swelled by students at TCD (Trinity College Dublin), weekending hen parties and an explosion of start-up businesses. If Joyce, Beckett and Wilde were around today, they would never have emigrated.
But it’s not all glitz and glamour. The old city – its Norman cathedral, its castle, its Georgian squares – is as much of a draw as ever. The vast halls, pretty quads and 1000-year-old manuscripts of Trinity College still attract crowds of intellectuals and tourists alike.
As for its pubs – over 1,000 of them – they are still as cosy, welcoming and spontaneously musical as you imagined: a far cry from the identikit gastropubs of most British cities. The Dubliners remain friendly, witty, and remarkably unpretentious, given the swagger of life around them. And through it all the River Liffey continues to flow placidly, dividing the city in two and (reputedly) bringing the softest water for a perfect pint of Guinness.