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IRISH IS AN ATTITUDE
A few years ago, Dublin went through a branding process to figure out what the perceptions of Dublin were outside the city. Whether it was new residents or visitors, the common first thought of what to expect was ‘Irish stuff.’ According to Scott Dring, Executive Director of the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), “The whole city has gravitated to this Irish theme. It distinguishes us from other communities in the area.”
Hotels in the city have given Irish names to their restaurants and conference rooms and changed their décor and logos to include shamrocks and plenty of green. The Holiday Express even offers wake-up calls with a brogue. “Because it’s been so successful,” says Dring, “people continue to embrace and build upon it.” For example, Slainte Thursdays invite residents to stroll through Historic Dublin to enjoy the special offers at shops, outdoor dining, and live music. In their efforts to give visitors a unique Irish experience, the Dublin CVB offers 20 ‘Irish Experiences’ including an afternoon with a seanchai, Gaelic language lessons, Irish dance demonstrations, and fiddle music at an Irish pub.
At its core, Dublin is still a close-knit community with their home-town pride and hospitality easy to see and feel. As Tom Murnane, a resident since 1980, says, “This community really really cares – about everything. There’s a lot of pride here. Halloween, Fourth of July, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day – it’s all a big deal. The perception of Dublin is that everything they do, they do right.”
One of Dublin’s most forward-thinking achievements has been its city-wide wi-fi network. Not only does it enhance public safety and city operations, it provides mobile internet access to the entire city, whether you’re in a public park or your own backyard. “It’s the next generation infrastructure that is necessary to support our residents and our businesses,” says deputy city planner McDaniel. “This kind of infrastructure supports the knowledge-based job, and it has certainly got us international recognition.” In 2009, Dublin was one of only two U.S. cities to be named one of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities around the world. In the year since its creation, the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center is now home to forty new businesses. “People are just amazed at how quickly that’s taken off,” says McDaniel. “It’s a reflection of our community and our entrepreneurial spirit.” Perhaps it’s this spirit that in 2009 prompted Business Week to name Dublin the Top Small City in Ohio to start a business, and Fox Business News to name Dublin the Top Small City in the U.S. to start a business.
IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE IRISH…
The residents of Dublin definitely feel they are lucky. Out of hundreds of cities across the country participating in a National Citizen Survey, Dublin had by far the highest rankings the National Research Center (NRC) had ever recorded. Dublin received the highest ranking in the nation as a place to live, in economic development, emergency preparedness, city services, and quality of new development, to name just a few, and ranked second highest as a place to raise children, in public schools, services for youth, and recreation centers or facilities. “We knew we had satisfied citizens, but this blew us away a bit,” says McDaniel. Forbes.com agreed, and in 2009 named Dublin one of America’s 25 Best Places to Move.
The end of 2010 marks the completion of Dublin’s bicentennial year. The past two hundred years of forward thinking, careful planning, and commitment to Irish culture have made Dublin a remarkable place. The Irish attributes that Dublin embraces – gregariousness, hospitality, ingenuity, gratitude – enable the city to stand out and ensure its success for the next two hundred years.
The spirit of Ireland is alive and well in Dublin.