Archive for May 12th, 2011

Holding back the tide

12 May 2011

By Juliana Adelman

‘Dead cats and dogs and offal of all sorts’ in Clanbrassil Street.  A sewer full of dead animals, refuse and the bedding from cholera patients at Newcomen Bridge.  Dozens of pigs to the rear of a house in ‘Pleasant’ Street.  A scavenging depot at Whitehorse Yard with manure overflowing its walls.  A slaughter house in Sackville Lane pouring rancid blood and offal down the street.  400 milch cows in Mahony’s Lane (off Great Brunswick Street), lying in ‘the most disgusting filth’.  Fumes from fat boilers, bone boilers and gut factories poisoning the air.  It is a wonder that nineteenth-century Dubliners did not daily drown in their own waste.

As those of you who caught some of the recent BBC Two series ‘Filthy Cities’ will have noticed, dirt is in.  For some of my research I have been going through the nineteenth-century minute books of Dublin’s Public Health Committee with growing empathy and affection for the sanitary sergeants. Read more