Kevin C.Kearns

Dublin Tenement Life

For nearly 150 years, the wretched, squalid tenements of Dublin were widely judged to be the worst slums in all of Europe. By the 1930s, 6,400 tenements were occupied by almost 112,000 tenants. Some districts had up to 800 people to the acre, up to 100 occupants in one building, and twenty family members crammed into a single tiny room. It was a hard world of hunger, disease, high mortality, unemployment, heavy drinking, prostitution and gang warfare. But despite their hardship, the tenement poor enjoyed an incredibly closely knit community life in which they found great security and indeed, happiness. As one policeman recalls from over half a century ago, they were ‘extraordinarily happy for people who were so savagely poor’.
Contents of Dublin Tenement Life History and Evolution of the Tenement Slum Problem
Physical Deterioration
Profiteering Landlords and Powerless Tenants
Overcrowding, Sanitation, and Illness
Social Stigmas and Stereotypes
The Press and Public Enlightenment
Housing Reform and Slum Clearance
Oral History and Tenement Folklore
Social Life in the Tenement Communities
Community Spirit and Gregarious Nature
The Home Setting
Economic Struggle
Securing Food and Clothing
Health, Sickness, and Treatments
Entertainment and Street Life
Religion and Morals
Courting, Marriage, and Childbirth
The Role of Men, Mothers, and Grannies
Drinking, Gambling, Prostitution, and Animal Gangs
Death, Superstitions, and Wakes
Oral Testimony: The Monto and Dockland
Maggie Murray—Age 80
Timmy “Duckegg” Kirwan—Age 72
Alice Caulfield—Age 66
Chrissie Hawkins—Age 83
Johnny Campbell—Age 68
Mary Waldron—Age 80
Billy Dunleavy—Age 86
Nellie Cassidy—Age 78
Elizabeth “Bluebell” Murphy—Age 75
Oral Testimony: The Liberties
Nancy Cullen—Age 71
Paddy Mooney—Age 72
Harry Mushatt—Age 83
Margaret Byrne—Age 72
John-Joe Kennedy—Age 75
Frank Lawlor—Age 66
Mary O’Neill—Age 84
John O’Dwyer—Age 70
Tommy Maher—Age 81
Lily Foy—Age 60
Senan Finucane—Age 73
Christy Murray—Age 86
Bridie Chambers—Age 66
John Gallagher—Age 60
Mickey Guy—Age 72
Margaret Coyne—Age 72
Patrick O’Leary—Age 70
Jimmy Owens—Age 68
Elizabeth “Lil” Collins—Age 91
Stephen Mooney—Age 65
Oral Testimony: The Northside
Paddy Casey—Age 65
Chrissie O’Hare—Age 76
John V. Morgan—Age 70
Peggy Pigott—Age 65
Mary Chaney—Age 84
Father Michael Reidy—Age 76
Ellen Preston—Age 65
Thomas Lyng—Age 70
Una Shaw—Age 61
Con Foley—Age 75
Margaret Byrne—Age 81
Jimmy McLoughlin—Age 50
Four Tenement Tales
Mary Doolan of Francis Street
Noel Hughes of North King Street
Mary Corbally of Corporation Street
May Hanaphy of Golden Lane

446 printed pages
Original publication
Gill Books



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