Dublin is a city steeped in history, dating back over 1,000 years when the Vikings first settled the area in 841 AD. However, while there are many buildings or ruins dating back to the Middle Ages, such as Dublin Castle founded in 1204 AD, most historical buildings are from the 18th century Georgian period and later. In the 18th century, for a short period of time, Dublin was the second largest city of the British Empire and fifth largest in Europe with a population of 130,000. Today, Dublin has a population of 527,612 with an urban population of 1,110,627, which is very similar to Calgary’s. But that is where the similarity ends.
By comparison, while First Nation peoples have visited the Calgary area for centuries, it was just a little over 100 years when a permanent settlement was established. And, it is only the in past decade or so that Calgary has really become a global city.
In 2012, while Dublin was ranked (based on global connectivity in the areas of accounting, advertising, banking, finance and law) as an “Alpha–“ city (Alpha++ being the highest ranking), Calgary is rated a “Beta-“city (Beta being the second highest ranking).
Anyone who visits Dublin can’t help but see that this city definitely puts the PLAY into the axiom “live, work, play.” The sidewalks, shops, restaurants and especially the pubs are full of locals.
Anyone visiting Calgary on the other hand, would think we are a bunch of workaholics as with our downtown sidewalks are empty except at lunch hour. Calgary’s urban streets are dominated by the hoarding of the construction sites not people.
Pub Culture vs Café Culture
One of the biggest differences between Dublin and Calgary is that Dubliners hang at pubs while Calgarians love their cafes. Dublin’s pub culture is one where people of all ages hang out, chat, listen to local musicians or watch sports – pubs are like a community living rooms. Hurling is my new favourite sport - an action-packed game that combines elements of lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, soccer and football. There is no hunching over the laptop while nursing a vegan soy peanut butter latte all day in Dublin!
There is literally a pub on every block, even in residential areas. What is also great about pubs is that they don’t close at 9 pm like most cafes. In fact, that is about the time things are just getting started with live music. One of our most memorable experiences was listening to a Saturday jam session of string players from our front row bar seats in a little pub on the edge of a plaza in Smithville district with people from 5 to 85.