The Celtic Tiger (the name given to Ireland’s rapid economic growth from the mid-1990s to the turn of the century) means that Dublin is fast becoming one of Europe’s most important centres of commerce. Low corporation taxes, vast amounts of foreign investment and a strong appetite for global tourism will all appeal to freelancers seeking pastures new. It’s a friendly, intimate city, yet you can still very easily lose yourself among the winding cobbled streets.
Although Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis, Dublin has recovered quickly and become an alluring destination for start-ups and independent professionals. According to the OECD, around 17% of the Irish workforce are self-employed, so you’ll certainly find yourself among peers.
Getting there and getting started
The city is only an hour’s hop from the UK by air, with Ryanair, EasyJet, BA and Aer Lingus all operating several flights daily from most British airports. Navigating the city itself is best done using Luas – Irish for ‘speed’ – Dublin’s tram/light rail system. Smartcards, like London’s Oyster cards, are available and services run every four to five minutes. Those favouring a more gentle pace should take advantage of the bike-share scheme – publicly available bicycles are located around the city and can be hired free for up to 30 minutes at a time, and longer for a set fee.
Irish regulations for setting up a business are very similar to those in the UK: you can launch as a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company, depending on which suits you best. If you’re not sure which is best for you, IPSE’s Guide to Freelancing can help with the technical stuff. There’s plenty of support for new enterprises too. Microfinance Ireland, for example, provide loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 for ‘solopreneurs’ and other small businesses.
Business support is always close by in Dublin. The Local Enterprise Office was set up as a ‘first stop shop’ for new entrepreneurs and existing micro businesses; it essentially facilitates mentoring and business advice, training and events, plus financial assistance in the form of grants and loans.
Where to work
As solo businesses soar in number throughout Europe and beyond, so too have the number of dedicated coworking spaces or work-hubs. Dublin is no exception. There’s desk space available on a flexible basis in every corner of the city with some geared towards the creative freelancer, others towards innovative tech start-ups, and there’s something for everyone in between.
Temple Bar, for example, is best known for its buzzing nightlife, but it’s also home to tcube, a work-hub for entrepreneurs, particularly in the web, app and mobile software sectors. Facilities include the typical fibre broadband, high spec kitchen and reception area with concierge; for an extra fee you’ll receive your own desk and phone number, a business address and onsite secure data centre. Prices start from €20 per hour or €195 per month. (8/9 Westmoreland St, Dublin 2)
CoCreate Dublin, meanwhile, is based in the heart of the city with a sister work-hub in Dublin 2, and caters more for content creators. It’s not just about the work at CoCreate – although private offices with 24/7 access will no doubt be welcome – there are also regular social events. A five-day HotDesk pass costs €100, or full-time desks are on offer from €250 per month. You can take a free trial day too. (57 Gardiner St, Dublin 1 / 27 Camden St, Dublin 2)
Where to stay
Those seeking value for money should opt for the elegant Eccles Townhouse. Located in the heart of the cultural quarter, this boutique hotel includes en-suite bathrooms, free WiFi and Sky TV – and still has an authentic Victorian feel. Rooms start from just €80, an extremely competitive price for a good hotel. (Eccles St, Dublin 7)
Mid-price hotels very quickly become top-price hotels the closer you are to the city, but the Handel’s HoteoHotel Hotel bucks the trend. You’ll find three-star accommodation with a full cooked breakfast in the very heart of Temple Bar, with rooms starting at €105. The Olympia Theatre, the Gallery of Photography and the Irish Film Institute are all less than 10 minutes’ walk away, and Dublin Castle is within easy reach too. (16–18 Fishamble St, Dublin 2)
If you travel in luxury, then the five-star Shelbourne Hotel is the one for you. Housed in an iconic 200-year-old building overlooking St Stephen’s Green, guests can expect marble bathrooms, pillow top mattresses and free high-speed internet. There’s also a spa, salon and health club. Rooms aren’t cheap. Doubles will cost you upwards of €250 and suites considerably more, but if you’re prepared to splash out you’ll certainly get your money’s worth. (27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2)
What to do
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. The drink has a more interesting history than you might expect and the experience includes a pint in the Gravity Bar, offering panoramic views across the city.
Dublin was the home of James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, plus modern authors J.P. Donleavy, Maeve Binchy and Roddy Doyle. An afternoon on a literary walking tour will therefore tell you all you need to know about Ulysses, Paddy Clarke and the Ginger Man. If that’s worn you out, go and relax on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s beautiful city centre park and home to a number of historical monuments.
After nightfall there’s no shortage of restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs to keep you occupied. In Temple Bar, for example, you’ll find piano bars with a bohemian atmosphere, electro-focused nightclubs and everything in between. Be aware that drinking in Dublin can be pricey – freelancers making their money in sterling may find themselves paying significantly more than in the UK.
But all things considered, that’s one of very few downsides to this fantastic city. Dublin has a lot to offer, and any freelancer or self-employed professional would do well here.
Words by resident travel expert (and IPSE Press & PR Officer) Mark Williams. Know about freelancing in Delhi? That’s where we’ll be next, so get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org