Health in Dublin (Russell, 1901)

1.411-14. T.W. Russell, M.P., Ireland and the Empire: A Review, 1800-1900, (London: Grant Richards, 1901), pp.19-20. BL

Extract from T.W. Russell, Ireland and the Empire (1901), on the condition of Dublin since the Union.

In a chapter of his book entitled ‘From the Union to Emancipation, 1800-1829’, Russell goes far beyond 1829 in considering the fate of Dublin since the Act of Union. Having lamented the loss of “its olden grandeur and glory” and the conversion of numerous resplendent buildings in the city to rather more mundane use, he turns his attention to the condition of its present inhabitants:

Dublin is a very noble and beautiful city; its public buildings, its splendid parks, its wide and handsome streets, its great squares, its lovely suburbs and environment, have long been the admiration of travellers. But there are two cities — the city which the traveller sees, and the city which lies out of sight. In the days of the Irish Parliament this city lying out of sight was full of life, activity, and patriotism. The manufacture of poplin, and the weaving of other fabrics, constituted a great industry, and every house had its work. All this has been changed. The liberties of Dublin are now sad beyond description. No slums in any other city of which I have knowledge approach them in desolation. With the exception of the manufacture of porter and whisky [sic], all other industries have practically disappeared. The poor are herded and huddled together like swine. Sanitation is all but unknown — is indeed impossible. Disease is rampant; the death-rate is abnormal; and but for the influence of the Roman Catholic religion, but for the devotion of the priests and the Sisters of Charity belonging to that Church, there would be imminent danger of crowds of this hopeless class of humanity reverting to savagery. This is the city lying out of sight, which few people visit. A century ago it was full of life, of business activity, of patriotism; to-day it is a veritable Gehenna. Yes, the Irish Metropolis paid a heavy price for the Union. This much must go unquestioned.