Reflections On The City 200 – What’s the biggest change in Dublin since 2004?

Posted February 27, 2022 in Design

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As we publish our 200th issue, we glanced back at the ever-evolving landscape of Dublin and interviewed well known faces around town about their experiences in the city. 

“For me, the biggest change in Dublin would centre around the Marriage Equality Referendum and Repeal of the 8th…” – Colm Keane, Chef

Q: What’s the biggest change in Dublin since 2004?

Colm Keane, Chef, Owner of Daddy’s

For me, the biggest change in Dublin would centre around the Marriage Equality Referendum and Repeal of the 8th. While these were obviously national achievements, life on the ground in BÁC had a real shift.

Me and my pals were politicised, moving, marching and deciding to change these things for us and for the future.

It changed the fabric of love in the city, and while there are a lot of losers who would like to now take it from us – it was hard won and we will protect it!



Jialin Long, Photographer

I think comparing now (2022) to 2004, Dublin has become a diverse city.

This friendly and welcoming atmosphere attracts people from different backgrounds to come and live in this beautiful city in the past twenty years.



Barry Sun, Chef

Being a chef, the first thing that comes to mind is how much our food scene and our restaurants have evolved and improved since 2004.

Dublin has really come into its own as a fantastic destination for dining – we have so much talent and there’s been so much innovation, particularly in the last couple of years in our hospitality industry in Dublin.

Sundays have changed in Dublin – I remember walking through town on a Sunday and it was so quiet, and it was so hard to even find somewhere good to eat that was open on a Sunday. Now it’s just as buzzy as every other day of the week.



Aoife Ní Thuama Keogh, Designer

So much has changed it’s hard to think of just one! I think the growth of the city has been incredible to watch.

It’s been amazing to see subcultures grow and to now have access to things, which growing up I never thought I would.

Long gone are the days when you had to rely on someone living in America or England to get a pair of runners or a magazine you wanted.



Jordan Hearns, Artist & DJ

The rise and fall of guerilla queer spaces.



Aisling Phelan, Artist

Well, I was 4 in 2004, so I guess my memories of Dublin only really began to form after around 2010. I’m from Wicklow originally so I only really experienced the city if we were going to the St. Patricks’ Day parade or going to dinner or the theatre. I guess I experienced it quite like a tourist up until around the age of 16/17, when I started going to shows and clubs like District 8, and spending more nights in town with older friends.

My experience of the city changed significantly though when I moved to Thomas Street to begin my degree in NCAD. I began to realise that Dublin was changing rapidly, and as a young artist, didn’t really feel like there was much thought going into how these developments would affect me and my peers, and that was only over the span of a few years. So many studios, venues and multi-use spaces were all being shut down to create space for, well, hotels.

So I guess the biggest change that I’ve noticed in my short time living here is the government’s choice to fulfil tourist desires over its own citizens.



Zoe Ardiff, Photographer

The Luas!



Tara Kumar, DJ

Well – confession – I moved to Dublin in 2011 so for me, what has changed in that time is the creative scene and the freedom to be DIY.

Being able to go to markets, pop ups, random parties/clubs in unconventional venues and even casual dining. Apart from the nightlife scene being full of talent, so is the hospitality and food sector.

There used to be so many affordable/reasonably priced casual dining places in Dublin and I did feel like that had been missing before the pandemic. However, I will say that there seem to be some places popping up in the last couple of months and some due to open which is really exciting.



Grace Enemaku, Designer and Illustrator

The biggest change in Dublin since 2004 is how socially aware we have become. We were the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by public referendum in 2015 and since then we have repealed the 8th amendment too. People have become more aware of social causes and more tolerant of those different to them.

Being mixed race has meant I’ve experienced my fair share of racism and that will never go away entirely, but now when we speak on it, we are listened to in a way that we weren’t before.

I believe we are making more and more progress everyday and that we will continue to do so, because the Irish have a great capacity for empathy.



Ayuba Salaudeen, Tola Vintage

I would say the fashion in Dublin has changed a lot.

I remember growing up everyone would wear tracksuits but now people are dressing more stylish and really cool.

Social media has encouraged people to be more expressive.



Orla King, Graphic Designer

There’s been huge changes to the Dublin city skyline.

Definitely a lot more high rise buildings and apartment blocks around now than there were when I was younger.

I always see cranes popping up everywhere, it feels like Dublin is constantly under construction.



Eric Ehigie, Podcaster

The biggest change I have noticed is the steady increase in the cost of living.

It has now become more difficult for students, workers, and professionals to meet the costs required to secure accommodation.

I believe this is making Dublin, as beautiful as the city is, less attractive for young students, as a possible destination for future work.



Shaylyn Gilheaney, Stylist

There have been so many but one really striking change is the increase in homelessness.

We sadly saw that number reach 10,000 since 2004.



Taurean Coughlan & Kevin Roche, Two Boys Brew

Having lived abroad for a number of years and then moving back to Dublin, the biggest change for me has been how expensive the city is to live in.

The city isn’t as accessible as it once was for a lot of people and that’s a shame for those that want to live amongst the beautiful city landscape.



Killian Walsh, Creative Director

The amount of Vape and Donut Shops! There used to only be one donut shop on O’Connell street in that tiny kiosk, where he had this insane conveyor belt contraption for making them.

House prices and rent being so high that it is now not achievable for people earning regular incomes to be able to afford a house of their own.

When I lived in Dublin this was not the case, but a lot has changed since then, and why I relocated to my home town of Dundalk.



Shane Daniel Byrne, Comedian

That’s around when I started exploring Dublin’s nightlife and most of the places we used to go have disappeared. While there is a lot more progress to be made, Dublin does feel more like a more welcoming city.

The two big recent referenda made people’s politics as well as their compassion more visible and I still feel the impact of that. It feels like a safer place to live for queer people.

There is a lot more progress to be made; especially when thinking about women’s safety or for people of colour. Two parts of the city’s society that also face discrimination and danger on our streets.


Reflections on the city 200 – As a Creative, How Important is collaboration in Dublin?

Interviews: Kerry Mahony & Eric Davidson

Image Credits:

Feature Image Colm Keane by Al Higgins

Jialin Long by Raisha Dong

Aisling Phelan by Samuel Jay Patrick

Shane Daniel Byrne by Brian Teeling


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