Older Dubliners are very self-deprecating - suppose it stems from the fact that Dublin genuinely was falling down around their ears in the 60s, 70s & 80s - particularly those latter two decades.
The negativity is now vented through litter, dirt, on certain types of people, on certain areas of the city etc.
But the place has come on in leaps and bounds and many parts of it are exceptionally beautiful, most parts being very pleasant. It is a different place even to that of 5-7 years ago.
To an outsider I'd say Dublin does have an air of a provincial British city in terms of its built environment; I can see it in the faces of tourists every day, but anyone who knows anything about these two nations will notice just how different Dublin is - on a host of levels, not least its architecture which has a uniquely Irish tinge to it, even if it has its roots in UK design.
To try to see the city from an outsider's perspective all you have to do is remember what you thought of the place as a child - it always works for me. In terms of the scale of the city, not knowing its history or its geography or its people, and in terms of defining the place through key buildings and the general blur of the streetscapes, a child's view comes very close to that of a newcomer.
Now unfortunately all I remember is a gritty, scary, smelly dump of a place littered with derelict sites and propped up buildings which doesn't bode to well for my theory, but that was quite a few years ago...
Sure Dublin's great