I'm in Dublin for a couple of weeks and seem to have stumbled into a town that has only barely embraced Wi-Fi: I've talked to a couple of locals about the market for Wi-Fi so have anecdotally confirmed that I'm not just a confused foreigner who can't seem to find the hotspots.
While my hotel, the Westin, has hotspot coverage from Swisscom and operators such as BT Openzone and O2 also offer for-pay hotspots, they are few and far between and the instance of free hotspots is quite rare. I paid the exorbitant €25 for a day pass in my room with plans to look online for free spots in town. I found a very short list--ten total. I started writing this offline from a cafe in a popular shopping center just across from St. Stephen's Green, a park in the center of town. I found the cafe listed online as a free hotspot and I can see the signal but can't connect to it. There's not another person with a laptop in the large cafe. Another cafe across the road I believe was free once, but now is a for-fee site operated by BT Openzone. My hotel is just across the street from Trinity College, which surprisingly also doesn't seem to have much--if any--Wi-Fi coverage.
I've moved on to one operating free hotspot that I found and while I'm grateful for the service, it's not exactly ideal. It's in the Chester Beatty Library, in Dublin Castle. The term library isn't exactly what you might think--it's actually a museum with a cafe near the entrance. It's a small cafe though and every seat is taken so I sit, along with two other computer users, on benches in the hallway. Still, I'm appreciative for the access. Administrators here use NoCatAuth and ask users to sign in and offer a bit of information about themselves. The sign in page also says that the service is "currently free" and asks for a donation. I'll be sure to drop some coins in the donation box.
The locals I spoke to about Wi-Fi in Dublin noted that it's unusual for a European city to have such little Wi-Fi coverage but couldn't offer any reason why. I find it especially interesting seeing as two operators, Leap Broadband and Irish Broadband, are building or expanding their broadband wireless networks, based on 802.16, in town. Clearly there are some cutting-edge wireless efforts here, just not when it comes to Wi-Fi. I hope to do some more investigation into why Dubliners don't appear very interested in Wi-Fi.