Saturday, October 08, 2011

Roaring Ireland

Recently returned from Ireland, to report that the Celtic Tiger is still showing strength. The taxi drivers all bemoaned the recession in that way that taxi drivers do. The Irish Times business section ran headlines like "Cleaning up after the bust," the Irish banks and the Euro remain in tumult, and the roadside is dotted with the equivalent of foreclosure notices. But the streets and the pubs were full in Dublin. Plenty of tourists and unusually sunny weather. The way down probably felt more intense because of the heights that had been achieved.
I was in Dublin presenting at the 1st international Conference on Age-Friendly Cities, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, the International Federation on Ageing, and Ireland's Age Friendly County Programme. Age-friendly cities are those that accomodate the growing cohort of older persons -- including aging baby boomers like me -- and allow them to age in place, walk or take transit. In other words, the way great urban neighborhoods function for anyone. I suggested in my talk that the 21st century city needed both attention at the neighborhood scale using the urban owner's manual left by Jane Jacobs, and a vision for regional planning and infrastructure demonstrated by Robert Moses. The concept of age-friendly cities is taking hold especially in countries with low fertility rates and where the older population is quite out of balance with under-35 year olds.
P.s. Hotel of choice in Dublin? The Merrion, fashioned out of four Georgian townhouses at the streetfront, and with fully modern facilities out back, a nice adapative re-use, and exceptionally attentive service. A nap was prerequisite by the fireplace in the lobby sitting area, having arrived at 5:20 a.m. on the short Aer Lingus flight from Boston.


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