Dublin

Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, is located on the east coast of the country at the mouth of the River Liffey. Dublin is the largest city of Ireland with a population of over 1 million. Historically it has functioned as the economic and political heart of the country. The city’s original settlement was established in 988 AD by Viking settlers and was later consolidated into a trading port by the Anglo-Norman conquest in the early 12th Century. Dublin remained a small medieval city with relatively slow growth until the Georgian Period when it became a major centre for British colonial rule in Ireland. Dublin grew enormously in size and wealth and soon became the second most important city of the British Empire. The Act of Union in 1800 between Ireland and the United Kingdom abolished the Irish Parliament, drastically reducing Dublin’s status as a core political and economic centre.

 

Dublin

While many European cities were transformed by the Industrial Revolution, the economy of Ireland stagnated in the nineteenth century. This was slowly reversed following the formation of an independent Irish state which restored capital city functions to Dublin. During the 1960s Ireland’s economic development strategies focused largely on industrializing a predominantly rural society and decreasing levels of unemployment by attracting branch-plant manufacturing activities (that required low-skilled labour). This was followed by a prolonged economic depression throughout the 1980s with high levels of unemployment and emigration.

 

However, a new strategy for economic development introduced in the early 1990s reoriented Ireland towards new high-tech, knowledge-based economic sectors, in particular the information technology, biotechnology and financial services sectors. Knowledge and skill have become the central drivers of prosperity and companies like Intel, Sun Microsystems and Wyeth Pharmaceutical now have major branch plants in the greater Dublin region. Ireland’s recent economic strategy has focused on creating an attractive and fiscal financial environment to complement the English speaking, young and well-educated population that has facilitated a major economic boom, which has been labelled the “Celtic Tiger”.  Ireland’s sustained economic growth is especially obvious in the Dublin region, which now contains almost 40% of the national population. Construction has boomed with new office blocks, commercial centres and residential areas developed throughout the region.

Dublin

Inner-city revitalization and redevelopment policies are a focal point of current urban planning policies. Numerous areas have been regenerated as thriving points for tourism, business activities, and housing including Smithfield, the Liberties and Dublin Docklands, each specializing in attracting different economic activities.  However, the economic growth of Dublin has also led to a significant and uneven pattern of urban sprawl, which has contributed to traffic congestion and issues of social cohesion.  Dublin is struggling to accommodate rapid levels of urban growth and how best to provide the level of infrastructure which the city’s growth demands is a critical issue to resolve