Life in a single room tenement
A tenement building in Dublin. Photo: Dublin City Public Library

Life in a single room tenement

Published: 27 December 1913

There is much discussion at this time about the homes of the poor in Dublin and the problems surrounding tenement housing.

Most of the tenements houses are owned by a man or woman trying to make a profit which means they often do not care or know about sanitation and conditions. The tenements are old houses formerly owned by the rich of Dublin, most of which are now out of repair. They formerly housed one family but now it is not unusuall to see one or more families in each room.

As the tenement housing were built before modern sanitation there is no running water in the house which means it has to be carried in from the street by the woman of the house and often up four or five flights of stairs, and then back down again with the dirty water. There are also no toilet facilities within the house - there is usually one in the back yard but it is seldom of high standards and there is usually only one for the whole house.

Within the houses you often find homeless and drunk people squatting on the floor of the hallways and stairs which makes it unpleasant for the families living in the rooms.

In most rooms you find a family of eight or ten sleeping, eating and living in one room, usually sharing one or two beds between them. The rooms are cold and the grates in the fireplaces are old and most heat goes up the chimney. These conditions also make it difficult to cook, meaning the family usually consumes a poor diet.

The houses are not properly maintained by the landlords and conditions are so bad that families often cannot stay for too long in one place.

Century Ireland

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