Dublin 1910-1940 – Shaping the City and Suburbs

At the beginning of the twentieth century Dublin faced a housing crisis of enormous proportions.  While the middle and upper classes lived comfortable lives in the independent townships, much of the population of Dublin city lived in wretched accommodation.  The city authorities had been slow to come to the view that they had any responsibility in the matter and by the beginning of the twentieth century the problem was almost beyond management.  Progress was impeded by the events of 1916 and the subsequent years of political instability and it was the middle of the 1920s before Dublin Corporation embarked in any significant way on its programme of housing renewal and housing construction for the working classes.

This is the focus of Ruth McManus in her text as she explores how Dublin Corporation built during the period 1910-1940.  She examines the influences on the builders and discusses the major schemes in considerable detail.  It was not just Dublin Corporation who was building in the city.  The middle classes were also being catered to by a variety of private builders.  However, McManus shows that it was a simple cases of ‘public’ and ‘private’ housing but that there was a complex inter-relationship between the public and private building.

The book has been described as the definitive work on housing in Dublin during this period.

A new edition was published in November 2021.  It contains a powerful poem by Dermot Bolger in commemoration of Herbert Simms, the first city housing architect.


Dublin, 1910–1940
Shaping the city and suburbs
Ruth McManus
Paperback €19.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-983-3
November 2021. 512pp; ills.
Dublin, 1910–1940
Shaping the city and suburbs
Ruth McManus
Paperback €26.95
ISBN: 1-85182-712-9
December 2002. 512pp; ills.

Chapter headings

  • Foreword
    • The Corporation Housing Architect by Dermot Bolger
  • Planning The City – The Beginnings
  • Building the city— the Corporation as Developer
  • Dublin Corporation Housing schemes to 1940
  • Not so private! Public utility societies and semi-private developers
  • Private developers
  • Alexander Strain: profile of a builder
  • Appendix: The background to modern town planning and suburban development
    Ruth McManus
  • Appendix: a brief guide to maps of Dublin in the first half of the twentieth century
    Joseph Brady
  • Appendix: some aspects of the geography of the city centre in the early twentieth century
    Joseph Brady

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