Building Healthy Homes

The Social Housing Landscape

As the nineteenth century progressed, so did a housing crisis in Dublin city. The population of the city grew but not in response to a demand for labour and poverty became its defining characteristic. The better off, for the most part, took themselves off to politically independent surburbs ensuring that while they could continue to use the facilities of the city, they did not have to concern themselves with their social problems.

In common with other cities in the United Kingdom, Dublin eventually came to realise that it had to tackle poor housing if it was going to improve public health.  Initially this had to be done at one remove with Dublin Corporation facilitating and supporting housing programmes by agencies such as the Dublin Artisans’ Dwelling Company. Ultimately it was understood that Dublin Corporation had to become directly involved in house building and after a tentative start in the 1880s, housing provision became a crucial part of the activities of the city council. This was assisted greatly by the much improved Dublin of the Working Classes Act in 1890 which set out the legislative framework for decades to come.

This book explores the early schemes of Dublin Corporation from its first scheme in Barrack Street in the 1880s to the development of Drumcondra in the middle 1920s. It traces the development of policy as the Corporation struggled to find a balance between good quality provision and the cost to the ratepayers. It examines the question of inner city renewal versus greenfield suburban schemes and how that debate evolved over time. Policy development was never straightforward and pragmatism had to be balanced with principle constantly.

Each scheme is examined in detail and the discussion is enlivened by block diagrams, maps and photographs. The hope is that readers will come to appreciate better the many schemes which have not only survived but continue to be an important part of the urban landscape.

The book may be obtained directly from Four Courts Press.

Joseph Brady and Ruth McManus
Catalogue Price: €25

ISBN: 9780950051260

October 2021. 200pp; ills.


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