A heartbroken missive to a city that’s asleep.

Pull up a crying chair.

Journalist Marcel Krueger. Of Elsewhere [English-language print journal dedicated to travel writing], writes:

Dublin my love, we need to talk. First of all I need to tell you: you are not London. Your streets are still dirty, the drug addicts still mingle with the tourists on O’Connell Street, and you have no financial district to speak of, whatever you think of that conglomeration of glass and concrete down by Grand Canal Dock, your traffic is still mad — in short, looking at you from the outside I see no justification for you becoming more and more expensive these days.

And yet, in terms of the rental and property market it seems you and your people are under the impression it’s 2005 again and everyone is partying.

It still seems possible to enjoy you as a visitor, but with the current rent prices it almost feels as if you are trying to bar me from becoming a citizen again.

In the last week I viewed half a dozen run-down bedsits and studios, all over €700  rent per month, all situated in cramped 19th-century townhouses that haven’t been renovated since 1982, all turned into sad semi-hostels with shared bathrooms where five or six disillusioned tenants sit in the crying chairs in their “studios”, contemplating their imminent ruin by rent and breathing in the mold and despair of unabashed materialism that permeates your air again, Dublin.

The property pages of the Irish Independent and the Irish Times are flaunting lovely €1.5 million Euro houses on their front pages again, wallowing in the fact that these places are now on sale for a third of their 2006 price, as if that was a good thing and 2008 never happened.

The windows of the estate agents are filled with more and more glossed-up pictures of houses for sale than ever before, red and green “sale agreed” and “sold” stickers on the pictures putting even more pressure on everyone to SELL OR BUY IF THEY WANT TO BE PART OF THE PARTY AGAIN.

Dublin, your city planning is as atrocious as ever, and shortsighted on top. More and more of your families with children are homeless and in June 42,000 people were on the waiting list for social housing, but it looks like only 200 council houses have been built this year.

And yet, last week NAMA, Ireland’s favourite bad bank cum state-owned property developing agency announced grand plans for the Docklands, with everyone in the upper echelons of the agency and construction companies involved greedily rubbing their hands for having once more paved the way for luxury apartments, shiny offices for multinational corporations with dubious tax records, and hotels for American pensioners. As Mick Byrne puts it in the Dublin Inquirer:

‘The docklands might have served as an urban laboratory within which to reimagine the city. It was a chance to put talk of creating thriving communities and rich urban environments in the heart of the city into action.

Instead, we are witnessing another round of finance-driven urban development, a fact which speaks to the current poverty of imagination and ambition among those who hold the levers of power in our city.’

Dublin, I still love you, and you have always been expensive, but this time you seem even more like an aging mistress that sails out for a last hurrah with her equally ageing lovers, without regard for what the future might bring. I’m not sure if I’m any more capable to throw my money at you without looking at you in the morning, when the hangover has set in.

Dublin My Love (Marcel Krueger)

Pic: Dan Alexandru

Thanks Marcel

Save Poolbeg

75 thoughts on “Dear Dublin,

    1. Prop Joe

      Basically this is exactly what he is saying!
      He is whinging that he can’t get a flat in the city centre for a low rate..
      Do what the rest of us do you wind bag – commute from slightly outside the city in newer developments.

      1. Brian Shaler

        Oh Joe.You sound like a suppine coward who would never stand up for yourself or others,no matter how bad the treatment is.Please Joe,there is no need to bend over all the time unless you inherently like to.

        1. Prop Joe

          Excuse me ? He wants a great apartment in a city centre location in a european capital…for 700 euro? Bananas.

          I live ten minute drive from O’Connell St, and have a great penthouse apartment. (and no it’s not on the M50 either) I could afford a place in the city for the same price I am paying but it would be smaller, that’s the compromise.

          You sound like an insufferable rsehole.

          1. Custo

            Read it again. He didn’t say that. He said that he viewed run-down bedsits with communal bathrooms that were asking for 700 a month.

          2. ahjayzis

            Ditto on central london for under 700 – it ain’t a one-bed though! I think he’s looking for a one-bed that isn’t a bedsit in DCC for 600? Jayzis.

          3. munkifisht

            Well, that is a fair point, but looking at Dublin rental prices they’re really not that far away from London ones, and London’s fupping London. Dublin is a great city but is awfully overpriced.

          4. classter


            £600 is €829

            Also, having been in London for a bit, I suspect you’re not living in ‘Central’ for 600.

      2. gallantman

        Its not like we are Tokyo either- packed to the rafters. Look up one floor in Dublin City Centre, the number of empty buildings in prime locations is the real scandal.

  1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    This is shameful.
    Dublin is a beautiful place, filled with beautiful people.

    To call your personal problems ‘Dublin’ doesn’t serve you well.
    Nobody owes you anything.
    Dublin will still be here after you emigrate.

    Grow some balls.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      Wait a minute, did I just agree with Prop Joe?

      Which one of you f*****s spiked my drink?

      1. Prop Joe

        I always find myself agreeing with the sentiment of a large portion of your posts,
        I know I’m an angry bollix but I won’t let any other tunt away with stupidity

    2. Nigel

      Keep your problems to yourself. Don’t complain. Don’t look for attention or help or support. Shut up. Go away. You weak little coward. Nobody cares. Nobody likes you. We mock weakness and emotion. What makes you think you;re so special? Bottle it up. Suffer in silence, Go away.

  2. classter

    He has some valid points but like much Irish journalism feels the need to exaggerate to the point of uselessness.

  3. Pretendgineer

    I know it’s an easy and fun pastime to bash NAMA, but they’re doing exactly what they were set up to do and better than expected. Not to mention they just committed to releasing lands and building homes! But still they’re greedy, money hungry corporate goons. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. I don’t envy them their jobs.

  4. Supercrazyprices

    Friend tells me house prices inside M50 will double in next 5 years due to loosening of lending rules.

    I doubt that but 30% to 50% seems likely. You’ll all be tip toeing around Cabra and Crumlin again, looking to Hipster up a ex corpo.

  5. Mike

    despite opening with my pet hate cliché “we need to talk” (pass the bucket) some fair points made. London also mostly an overpriced poohole too

  6. Dublin

    Dear Michael,

    I appreciate the sentiment but resent the tone and delivery. Also, I am a city and am not responsible for the inhabitants. Also, I think you need me more than I need you. I am friends with a lot of other European cities who might take you.



  7. Jordofthejungle

    Unless I am missing something, I don’t think Dublin ever marketed itself as comparable to London. Michael makes many good points but I can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t move away if Dublin is such an ordeal. He doesn’t appear tied to the city in any way, by nationality or otherwise.

    Dublin is infuriating, it’s the least that can be said but one lives in hope, cognisant of the many good and unique things it possesses. Perhaps though it is not for the faint of heart or those who seek excellence or perfection. Will we ever be rid of the scourge of mediocrity, short-termism and of course, cute hoorism?

    1. Anne

      P*ss off if you’re not happy with it is it?

      Yer full of empathy around here.

      Also he doesn’t say Dublin isn’t beautiful. Learn to read.
      He’s talking about how unaffordable it is to get somewhere decent to live.
      Granted those with houses handed to them from the council paying tuppence a week or those who bought well before the boom wouldn’t understand this, but we should try and see past our own narcissistic viewpoint..

      1. Jordofthejungle

        Lol – I note you’re no socialist, the council house dwelling scrounges coming in for your opprobrium. Not that that’s a bad thing, I’m just delighting in your hypocrisy. Diddums.

        1. Anne

          Wrong. Read it again.

          I’ve no problem with people who have council houses paying tuppence a week in rent or anyone getting help from social welfare.. it’s got to do with empathy. Or a lack thereof to be precise.

  8. Nej

    That piece is gonna ruffle some feathers. I can see the “why dont you emigrate” replies are already trotting out, but nobody is looking internally to see if there actually is a problem (hint: there is).

    Hey fupp it,eh? At least it’s someone else suffering, not you.

  9. Eliot Rosewater

    I was under the impression that we were all aware that supply was the big issue? Is that not the case anymore? So, we’re a capital city (that nobody ever saw as comparable to London) with a supply issue which is increasing the price of rentals in the city centre. And we have a financial district, probably bigger than fits a country of our size.

    There’s lots of problems with Dublin, but claiming that you can’t understand why the rents are high seems a bit dishonest to me. What’s worrying is that we have all these plans for the docklands, but are still refusing to really build high. Another good idea would be to give tax incentives to people to open up vacant space above shops. There are a couple of these types of properties at the Liffey end of Capel Street and they are grand places to live (or they were in the mid 2000s).

    1. donal

      The Living Over The Shop scheme was tried in Dublin, and it failed. I’ve no idea if the incentives weren’t strong enough, or the streets where it applied not numerous enough, but it was a failure. I love the idea, but if they try it again they better know what went wrong last time and avoid same mistakes

  10. James

    I don’t know if other cities have the same problem but I’m baffled why it’s so hard to criticise Dublin without the majority of responses having a tag-line along the lines of ‘you don’t have to stay here/ it won’t miss you’. Neither of these are a rebuttal to the issue raised (they’re directed at the character of the speaker, not the subject they’re talking about) and come across like someone who’s been slapped in the face. Is this anything other than being incredibly defensive but not realising it?

    Constructive criticism is a wonderful thing for progress when done out of love for something. If you disagree, say why, tackle the issue and not the person. Everyone might learn something. But stop jumping to the same old ‘it won’t miss you crap’ and missing good opportunities to learn or teach. We’re long past colonialism at this stage, it’s ok to get over the subservient mentality and attitudes to everything.

    1. classter

      This isn’t a critique – its an overblown rant wit hquite a few odd non-sequiturs.

      It says that Dublin is not like London but then lists a few ways in which the cities are similar (indeed most cities are similar) – drug addicts mingling with tourists, dirty streets, mad traffic…

  11. some old queen

    The south of England is experiencing a property bubble where Luton is now considered a ‘des res’ zone as the Saudi’s expand their portfolio outside London’s Chelsea and CC.

    And then there is Dublin. Any decent journalist should be able to calculate how many TD’s own 2nd/ 3rd and 4th properties with multiple tenants except, they wouldn’t ever work again.

    Corruption? Take your pick.

    1. Saint Paul

      Caroline says that I’m just a toy
      She wants a man, not just a boy
      Oh, Caroline says, ooh Caroline says

      Caroline says she can’t help but be mean
      Or cruel, or oh so it seems
      Oh, Caroline says, Caroline says

      She say she doesn’t want a man who leans
      Still she is my Germanic Queen
      Yeah, she’s my Queen

      The things she does, the things she says
      People shouldn’t treat others that way
      But at first I thought I could take it all

      Just like poison in a vial, hey she was often very vile
      But of course, I thought I could take it all

      Caroline says that I’m not a man
      So she’ll go get it catch as catch can
      Oh, Caroline says, yeah, Caroline says

      Caroline says moments in time
      Can’t continue to be only mine
      Oh, Caroline says, yeah, Caroline says

      She treats me like I am a fool
      But to me she’s still a German Queen
      Ooh, she’s my Queen
      Queen …

  12. Ricardo

    Apart from the whinge which is a bit boring there is this oft repeated point about 42,000 people on a housing waiting list. This is because you aren’t eligible for state funded rent unless you are on a waiting list. This doesn’t make you homeless, just collecting your entitlements. As for all the stuff about tiger economies etc. The return for a landlord in Dublin at todays prices is about 3% before tax and 2% after tax. It isn’t that good which is why there are so few rental properties available and God help you if you want your property back!

    1. some old queen

      I’m not sure what you are saying here? Of topic but there are plenty of landlords/ladys who have no mortgages on their properties where after tax and maintenance, the rest is their own. My point is that without all landlords voluntarily disclosing the debt on their properties there is no real way of calculating nett profit.

      What is certain is you will be hard pressed to find one who will say they are doing well out of the current housing crisis. But most of them are, accidental or not.

    2. Sherriff Frilly Keane

      People in mortgage arrears, where their mortgage is seen unsustainable, can also qualify for Social housing

  13. Diddy

    He’s right about planning.. More idealogy dreamed up to line the pockets of the rich.

    More importantly is the lack of a fuppen pay rise. Taxes up.. Prices up .. Wages stagnant!!

  14. Chris

    Another wayward comparison to London, the supposed city of dreams. Have you been to London??? I go all the time it’s a dump! There’s so much traffic congestion it all moves at a snails pace, even at night. It’s not pretty either, yes some is nice but you start to notice everywhere you go there is one good corner for every falling down one. Londoners are just better at putting the blinkers on, they look at their nice corners and feel good about themselves whilst ignoring the grime ridden urban waste lands in between. And yes we have a housing crisis and a perverted property market, the London market is worse and far more cut throat albeit with a better quality supply.

    1. Lilly

      Plus as least you can breath in Dublin, fresh sea air. London is horribly polluted. That said, I sympathise with this guy. Poor planning, that’s all. No excuse in a country this size with a relatively small population.

  15. Nice Anne (Dammit)

    t…. whilst ignoring the grime ridden urban waste lands in between

    Or Lewisham as we call it over here…

  16. Illuminati16

    All the butt hurt howiyas whinging anytime anyone dares criticise dublin – get over yourselves… he makes some good points…

  17. AG

    He’s right, all the good things about Dublin are made practically redundant by the fact that the city allows greed to rule. Other European capitals and cities of a similar size to Dublin twigged long ago that the liveability of a city to many is more important than the profit of the property investment few. I love Dublin, but Christ I resent how badly it’s allowed to ‘develop’

    1. AG

      If my loved ones weren’t here id have fecked off long ago? In case anyone aka why I bother to stay when my view of the city is so dim

  18. Sherriff Frilly Keane

    Yeah Dublin isn’t London

    But so what
    I can earn a living here
    I’m 40 mins from my preferred beach spot
    I can get a Sanger, a package of Cheese n’Onions AND a Beverage for 5 yoyos in Blah Cliath
    My crowd have access to great schools
    ( and by public transport From My Front Door!!)
    I can get ta’ Thurles now in less than 90mins – even when I behave meself
    And there’s still plenty of Clubs inside the M50 that’ll be open on Christmas Day
    North and South and West main Cities are all accessible by affordable trains and within safe driving distances

    Our Airport isn’t too bad

    Yes its expensive
    But Ireland was never a cheap destination
    Why should Dublin now be an exception?

    And annuder thing
    Ireland has always had a large residential population within its Cities
    There is a far higher per head living within a half a click of O’Connell Street than say Regents Street

    Don’t get me wrong
    I love London
    Was born just outside there
    And it is the greatest City in the world

    But you Marcel
    Are just being a prick

    EFF off wi’ yerself

    1. Lilly

      Give the guy a break! Sounds like he’s just starting out, early 20s, drawn towards a low- paying career, can’t be easy. We weren’t all born sensible.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Leaving Cert 85
        Arrived Blah Cliath during the May 90 heat wave
        Didn’t go beyond tge Long Mile Road until that year’s Munster Hurling Final
        Donkeys won da Derby
        An den
        Won da Double

        Decided it was lucky for me

        So you could say I started out here too

  19. Boba Fettucine

    It’s the lack of joined up thinking in relation to housing problems that gets me:

    Property prices are overheated, so introduce controls on lending so draconian that very few first time buyers can afford anything;

    Notice that rents, as a result, increase. Introduce rent controls but then express surprise when landlords pre-raise rents to take into account their two year moratorium (as they will every two years);

    Eventually notice that no new housing stock is being built as yields are not high enough (see point one above).

    Don’t be surprised when they loosen up the mortgage lending laws to solve the problem, and house prices then increase again.

    Incidentally, this is nothing new as anyone who queued with 50 other hopefuls in the 80s/90s clutching a copy of the Evening Herald to see some dump which was taken by the first in line will know…

  20. Augustus Gloop

    The “Dublin isn’t London” line seems misunderstood by many. Deliberately, I assume.

    The point, to my mind, is that London is an exception to most standards of urban living, but there are perhaps sound economic reasons why that is the case, and there’s a trade-off between horrendous rents and other (mostly professional) opportunities. The guy seems to be making the point that there is no particular reason why rents in Dublin seem to be approaching that of London because the same opportunities don’t exist and the population, by comparison, is tiny.

    Settle in any other city in the UK and it’s pretty affordable. We should be benchmarking our affordability against other UK/European cities of comparable size and economic clout – Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, dare I say even Manchester.

  21. cian

    Hmm.. you say
    In the last week I viewed half a dozen run-down bedsits and studios, all over €700 rent per month, all situated in cramped 19th-century townhouses that haven’t been renovated since 1982, all turned into sad semi-hostels with shared bathrooms where five or six disillusioned tenants sit in the crying chairs in their “studios”,
    I thought that shared bathrooms were no longer allowed:

    The landlord must provide:
    • A sink with hot and cold water
    A separate room, for the exclusive use of each rented unit, with a toilet, a washbasin and a fixed bath or shower with hot and cold water

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