Dublin is a top place to visit, but a terrible place to stay
"It shouldn't be this hard to be proud of where you are from."
Earlier this week, the international travel guide Lonely Planet named Dublin as one of the top 10 cities to visit in the world.
Our own capital beat out tourist hot spots like Mexico's Merida, the Tuscan city of Florence, and the 'Museum Without Walls', Gyeongju in South Korea.
According to the new book, Dublin is one of "Europe's most down-to-earth and friendly cities" with a "renewed sense of community".
There is a sense of community, alright - the sense that the city is losing all of the places that made it such a strong community in the first place.
It seems as though every week, there's one of two announcements shared across social media; the opening of a new hotel, and the closing of a cultural institution.
This year alone, we have seen so many hubs of activity and culture shut their doors forever.
Accents Café, the Science Gallery, and Chapters Bookstore have all been forced to close down over the past few months, leaving the population with fewer and fewer options for places to meet up and spend money in the community.
To be honest, the canary has been dead in the mineshaft for a while. We've known that Dublin's vibrant culture has been bleeding out for the past few years. Cultural venues were the first to go, with the Tivoli's closure several years ago still having a knock on effect for the arts to this day.
We had taken this as a given, however; theatres have always been seen as a risky venture, a place to support artists, even if their ideas didn't necessarily turn a profit in the end.
However, it now seems as though that exchanging money for goods is no longer enough of a viable source of income for the city. We have to be charged for the time that we spend in a place as well.
Construction on a new hotel seems to begin every week, and with the naming of Dublin as a top tourist destination and its transformation into a European tech hub, it's no wonder that the city council would want as many rooms as possible for the potential thousands flocking to our shores to see Dublin's fair city.
What is it, exactly, that will keep them here though?
Once they've checked into their hotels, and made their way to O'Connell Street to begin their Dublin adventure, they'll soon realise that all the "friendliness" and "sense of community" they came to see has been replaced with grey walls, tech giants and... other hotels that they could have stayed in
Fancy a tour of the city? I would recommend the Viking Splash Tour, but that's gone too. Maybe someone will bring it back in a brand new form, showing you where everything used to be. Replace Viking helmets with AirPods and instead of shouting at passers-by, passengers can resort to a short whimper.
Who is this city for, really? It's beginning to feel that Dublin has really taken the "top city to visit" message to heart, and now wants to kick people out as soon as they've had their stay. Young people don't live here anymore; they work to pay, and they pay to work.
A recent survey showed that around a third of people between 16-30 years of age are planning on emigrating within the next 12 months, and could you blame them?
Regardless of whether these cultural spaces are here or not, we are still in the midst of a serious housing crisis, with thousands being priced out of the city on a yearly basis. Young people shouldn't need to worry about whether or not they will have a place to stay in the morning.
It shouldn't be this hard to be proud of where you are from. When we look to our neighbours in Europe, we see functional transport methods, affordable housing and cultural areas to freely spend time and embrace the life of the city. Dublin, on the other hand, has become a massive hotel; rooms upon rooms of beds wherever you can find them, and a false sense of "place" and "togetherness".
People live in Dublin despite itself. Artists continue to create work wherever they can (even if the city council tries to clean it off the walls as soon as it's been spotted). Small businesses are set up in pop-up shops to circumnavigate massive rental prices for work spaces. People continue to spend time here because they are proud of what they have accomplished in this complex.
This will all be gone if we continue to suck the life out of it. If you're looking to pick something up today, shop local.
It just might be a hotel soon.