Boston v Dublin: An Irishman’s Diary on the liveability stakes

When I relocated to Dublin in July 1992 and got married a month later, my aunt Ellen bet that I’d be back in the Boston area (with my beloved in tow) within three years. Almost three decades later, she’s still waiting to collect on that wager.

My aunt isn’t the only person who’s had her doubts over the years. My improbable longevity here continues to mystify friends and family members alike and I’m still asked, quite regularly, would you ever think of swapping Dublin for Boston? The implication here, of course, is that the Hub is a better place to live than the Irish capital.

Well, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Global Liveability Survey, my two hometowns are nearly inseparable, with Dublin and Boston placing at 41 and 42, respectively, out of 140 cities assessed worldwide across five broad categories: political stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure.

Here it's never too hot or too cold, and rarely too wet or too dry

Likewise, the global consultancy firm Mercer, in their 2019 listing of the world’s most liveable cities, ranked Dublin and Boston neck and neck, at 33rd and 36th, respectively. (For the 10th year in a row, however, Vienna is where you really want to live if you’re a high-flying CEO.)


Anyway, to reassure myself that I made the right call all those years ago, I’ve decided to compile a list of reasons why life is as good in Ireland as anywhere else in the world – and perhaps even better. So let me begin with: THE WEATHER. I know, it rains year-round in Ireland and the sun doesn’t shine as reliably as it does in other places. (As for Summer SunFest 2018, the investment ads have it right: past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.) On the plus side, the weather in Ireland won’t kill you, as it often does in the midwestern and southern quarters of the US by means of tornados and hurricanes.

Here it’s never too hot or too cold, and rarely too wet or too dry.

And Ireland isn’t situated near any problematic fault lines that might result in, say, a problematic earthquake or tsunami.

For all its flaws, there really is nothing like the GAA anywhere else in the world, its main attributes being that it keeps teams and players rooted to their communities

If you think I’m overstating the case, just ask Google. Their Dublin data location facility “has an advanced air-cooling system that takes advantage of Ireland’s weather to keep our computers running smoothly. As a result, the data centre does not require any costly and power-hungry air-conditioning units, helping Google to significantly reduce its energy requirements.” See, I told you. THE GAA. When attempting to describe the Gaelic Athletic Association to friends and family stateside, I like to use the following comparisons. Imagine an organisation and a set of games with the historical pull of baseball, the frenetic energy of playoff ice hockey, and the broad presence of high school football (of the US variety).

That would be the GAA in Ireland, I tell my Boston pals, a genuinely amateur sporting organisation that puts the likes of the NFL, Fifa and the IOC to shame. For all its flaws, there really is nothing like the GAA anywhere else in the world, its main attributes being that it keeps teams and players rooted to their communities and it encourages girls and boys, men and women to continue playing even if they’re not elite performers. THE GLOBAL OUTLOOK THAT EMIGRATION BRINGS: Like the weather, emigration can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, every aspect of Irish life suffers when many of the country’s best and brightest depart for foreign lands. But these ex-pats do sometimes return, bringing fresh ideas and a cherished vitality with them. Also, without a constant flow of Irish immigrants over the years, many US cities, including Boston, wouldn’t be what they are today. On a personal level, if my Cork grandparents hadn’t set sail for the Hub in 1930 – arriving in Boston within months of my Sicilian grandparents – who or where would I be today? And finally, THE SLOWER MARGINALISATION OF WRITTEN AND CONVERSATIONAL LANGUAGE HERE THAN ELSEWHERE. As evidence of this, Irish newspapers such as this one continue to publish fiction – of the literary variety – and authors, both home-grown and from abroad, are regular guests on radio and television programmes. As for daily discourse, in Ireland as elsewhere social media will soon become the only show in town, but for the moment Irish people still take the time to talk face to face with each about – among other things – the weather.