100 Ways Dublin Will Look In The Future

Posted January 15, 2013 in Features

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future of dublin film

The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes. – Marcel Proust

Like a bad boy told to sit in the corner after spending all his pocket money on Premier League stickers and Dip-Dabs, Dublin is in an enforced period of reflection. From the Irish Times’ recent week of Dublin-centric studies to our very own 200 Reasons Not To Leave Dublin, the city’s navel has been gazed at to a microscopic level. For our 100th issue we’ve decided to study crystal balls rather than history books, and we’ve asked some of Dublin’s foremost thinkers and doers from all cultural, economic, scientific and social spheres to help us with our divination. Here are your hundred different pairs of eyes.

Gerry Godley Festival Director of 12 Points and Improvised Music Company

The future is an unknown country. They do things differently there.” Among the things I hope we’ll be doing differently is use of public space, with all those blotches of  undeveloped wasteland like the site at Abbey Street transformed into allotments and garden larders. The Luas BXD will have transformed crossing the river, but most of us will be walking or biking in a city core that has banished the majority of traffic, with College Green transformed into the public agora we deserve. We’ll be hanging out in the old Central Bank, now a hub of  educational, communal, social and cultural activity. We’ll be walking everywhere because carbon is more expensive than drugs, which have been legalized anyway, and Dylan Haskins will be our directly elected mayor and his first edict will be to ban battery powered busker amps.

Jane McDaid Founder and Creative Director, Thinkhouse

A more humble, resourceful and appreciative generation has arrived and it feels right for a country our size and with our heritage to adopt this sound attitude. Those lucky enough to be employed in the creative industry, value our positions and value opportunity more than ever before. Hardworking, creative and talented city folk are now stepping forward and stealing the limelight. It is this modest, genuine approach, rather than bravado and delusional ambition, that will get us noticed as a city –  a city famous for delivering world class excellence in creative communications, technology and design.

Dylan Haskins Broadcaster and Social Entrepreneur

The generation of young theatre-makers, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are emerging in the midst of economic and political crises will be coming of age and realising their most ambitious ideas, giving Dublin a reputation as an exciting cultural testing ground. There will be at least one new political party, probably comprised of people who were already in parties. There might be one less house of the Oireachtas but the system of governance will remain largely unchanged. That will take much longer. Little Green Cars will be the biggest band to have come out of Dublin in ten years.

Irish Design Shop

As lavish Celtic Tiger purchases gather dust, there will be a return to a traditional way of life. Hipsters clad in Aran knit will be adept at basket weaving and lace making. Neon phone shops will be replaced by independent shops offering all manner of goods from fashion to craft, with an emphasis on practicality, sustainability and design. The rural ideal will take over our city. Vacant offices, retail units and banks will be converted into collective art spaces incorporating small holdings allowing the most hip of hipster to grow their own willow and raise their own sheep.

Alan Fitzpatrick Managing Director, Filmbase

Access to high-quality digital equipment has removed many of the traditional barriers to film production, opening up the artform to masses of new practitioners. There is a maverick breed of new film talents now emerging who are finding their creative voices and embracing the guerrilla-style/low-budget aesthetic, who aren’t afraid to take risks, and who aren’t waiting for a funding organisation to give them “permission” to make their films. Not all of their films will be successful, but the passion and energy that fuels this new film generation will ensure that some raw gems emerge and should be encouraged.

Teresa Dillon Curator/Artist, Science Gallery

According to William Gibson, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”. Global trends predict that by 2023, eight billion people will live in the world. This is an increase of one billion over the next ten years, the majority of which will live in cities. Urban tera-zones will become our future hallmark and how we live in them central to our survival. Currently one in three people living in cities live in slums. So Gibson’s dictum on distribution holds true. The choices and decisions we privilege today reinforce what is possible tomorrow. The future is now.

Manchán Magan Documentarian and Author

After the 2016 Rising, Dublin transformed itself over a decade into a model of how to live a creative, fulfilled life, in which the young were encouraged to truly expand their minds, rather than confine them; and everyone engaged in both menial and fulfilling work, alternately. In such a small area and isolated population the effects of this new generation were immediately apparent and attracted others seeking similar growth. Dublin become the centre of pioneering education and a beacon of enlightened thinking, as Ireland was in early-Christianity. From priest-ridden servitude to alembic chamber of transformation in 50 years – not bad.

Brian Finnegan Editor, GCN

Among the children who populate the playgrounds of Dublin there will be lots who have two Moms or two Dads, and who will feel equally valued to their heterosexual parented peers. That’s because the Irish government will have legislated for same-sex marriage, getting rid of the inequality for children of same-sex couples enshrined in our law through the introduction of civil partnership. On O’Connell Street gay couples will hold hands, safe in the knowledge that they live in one of the most liberal and secular countries in the world, where being gay is as everyday as a bag of chips from Beshoffs.

Simon Geraghty Owner, Dotdash

An essay in hope: That Facebook, Twitter, Google et al. invest in a robust incubator and start-up scene. That our new rive gauche continues to flourish in D7, with Block T, Chocolate Factory, and the Joinery, joined there by Monster Truck and other fellow travellers. Add DIT’s new campus up the road and a dazzling new Luas line in 2014 and our fine city might even re-capture its 1920’s transport glories. That even when the good times start to roll we don’t lose the run of ourselves all over again. How much is your house worth?

John Farrell Restaurateur, 777

At this stage in the recession, we’d expect to be seeing a higher standard in the contenders offerings. The economic downturn has provided Dublin with the perfect stage on which to play out innovation, resourcefulness and eclecticism. A deconstruction of the “restaurant” as a concept is inevitable. We’d expect chefs and restaurateurs to take on a larger role, not only in the community, but on a political level. Think pasta as a new fossil fuel. We don’t expect to see a Charlie’s 24, but we embrace the future of fried chicken; road kill is still unexplored territory. The future? BBQ Squirrel…

future of dublin fergal brennan

Fergal Brennan Illustrator and animator

The future: It’s still raining. But that’s cool, because most of the world is 60° centigrade. I’ll be loaded, as I’ve invested heavily in LEDs, digital panpipes and genetically engineered managers.

Clement Esebamen Independent Politician

Children of the new century born to African immigrants are now growing into their teenage years. I believe if the education option is not open further to these kids, then the worst of immigrant underclass will take root in Dublin. They are among most deprived of Irish children, but they are also a resilient lot. They will watch their parents struggle through multiple jobs, growing up in hostels in utter poverty. But, with multiple barriers including language, they will do well in second level. Removing the barriers to access third level is crucial. In 2020, I’d be delighted to say our 20 year olds are thriving and feel completely part of a vibrant city.

Professor David Dickson Department of History, TCD

Dublin 2050 – two scenarios, one dystopian, one sublime. The first is of a physically fragmented city without public transport or the need for it, surrounded by untreated mosquito swamps, the Phoenix Park a real safari,  suburban wealth protected behind invisible barriers, the core of the city only open to permit-holders except for the robotic St Patrick’s Day parade. The sublime scenario, Dublin the gleaming capital of an energy-rich, food-abundant island, the first totally green city in Europa, capitalizing on the decline of London after the breakup of Britain and on the opening of the hyper-tunnel from Boston to Berlin via Dublin.

Dean Van Nguyen Business Ireland editor

Dublin city in 50 years’ time, and since the phase out of physical money a decade previously, euro notes are now only seen hanging up in pubs. E-Wallets are used to pay everything from bus fares to everyday purchases (though the term ‘E-Wallet’ has been largely phased out, like ‘world wide web’ half a century ago). While the rag trade has survived, Dublin’s main retail epicentres have shrunken considerably. The improvements to online shopping interfaces, the complete digitalisation of media and the relative ease of reaching the world’s most famous shopping districts in London, New York and Paris have driven out many of the big chain retailers. Government incentives over the years that were intent on stimulating activity in Dublin city centre have largely failed. Consumers have made their choice.

Conor Behan Journalist, broadcaster and DJ

Dublin is fantastic. Dublin is small. Dublin is cloying. Dublin is all of these things and other city-based contradictions. Dublin is subject to change, even if it feels like our size means we move at a slower place than “cooler” cities such as London and Berlin. Everyday, as another horde of young people leave, it’s weird to think what kind of city they’ll come back to. And whether there’s another new McDonalds or not, Dublin City will always be small. A blessing and a curse, but in my mind its greatest asset. Dublin will be compact, charming and here forever.

Trevor White Curator, Little Museum

Dublin is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. A quarter of our nine-year-olds are overweight or obese, yet children are still assaulted by Big Sugar every day. The cynicism of its marketing is staggering, while industry’s hold on government, the media and academia is frankly despicable. A truly civilised society would not expose children to junk food advertising. Eventually all Dubliners will realise that the right to peddle sugared water is not so great as the obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. In the future, products that make kids sick will not be advertised.

Una Mullally Journalist, Irish Times

Dublin is the MacGyver of cities. Squeezed of resources, it will continue to make do with what it has, with often mindbogglingly imaginative results. Now I’m not saying a city can flourish on paperclips and blonde side-partings alone, but as a wise person once said: you don’t give people things to make them creative, you take things away from them. That adage goes for everything but people, especially young people. The future of this city rests in the minds of those who make the decision to stay here and mold it for themselves. The future doesn’t look like anything. It’s a blank page.

Emily Carson Comedy Editor

Dublin comedy will be largely comprised of people being filmed unsuspectingly, attaining YouTube fame, recording their own music videos and then doing club appearances on Harcourt Street. The rest of the comedy scene will be made up of cats from the Internet. Almost none of the great comedians of the future will be aware of their status, nor will they be comedians by profession. All our humour will be derived through our Google glasses as we guffaw softly on the Luas as meme after meme flashes before our eyes.

Alex Synge Keep Sketch


Karl Whitney Non-Fiction Author

Dublin, as it stands, is a city fragmented: broken by physical boundaries and psychological divisions into a jumble of pieces, like an unmade jigsaw shaken around in a box. This urban form is the result of the mutations of the city over the last century: the urban population explosion, the low-rise suburbs and the motor car as the core unit of transportation planning. If the future holds more of the same – sprawling suburbs divided from each other – then what’s needed is an effort of the imagination, coupled with strong public investment in transport infrastructure, to piece the jigsaw back together.


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