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The Tenements

  • 04-08-2011 2:11pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    Thankfully I remembered to record the programme 'The Tenements' last night on TV3. As an ex-tenement dweller myself I was very interested in how the programme dealt with the subject. I hope other ex-tenement dwellers will put their own thoughts here.

    Myself, born in 1952, I was married from a tenement flat in Dublin city in 1976. I remember the lack of privacy with the shared toilet on the landing above our flat. I remember the 'toilet paper' made from newspapers and hanging on string, the shared Belfast sink which would be worth a fortune today also on the landing, the iron fireplace surrounds which would also be worth a lot today. My mother dragging the messages, or a bag of coal up two flights of stairs, and kneeling to scrub those same wooden stairs. The programme brought all these memories flooding back. We thankfully were not in very cramped conditions as there were only four in our family in two rooms, no bathroom.

    The programme kept referring to 'slums'. Yes I don't deny there were the most awful slums but I think my mother were she alive today would have been most insulted at the term. Another strong memory is the smell in the house - not what is portrayed in the programme, but smells of Sunlight Soap which my mother used to scrub us with until we were raw, Jeyes Fluid which mother used every day when cleaning the toilet (she always said if she didn't clean the toilet it would never be done as the other tenants rarely bothered), and the other smell which is wafting in my memory is that of Lavender Furniture (or Floor?) Polish. Maybe someone could remember the exact name, purple tin, might have been Mansion? She used this on the lino which although worn bare when polished it came up a treat.

    The main thing I will say is, as a child, I was extremely happy. I personally can't remember being cold or hungry although I do remember my mother spreading margarine onto a crust and I sucked it sitting on the floor in front of the fire, and I also remember our mattress, filled with horsehair, and my mother ironing the sheet with the old iron (made of iron and heated on the gas cooker) to make it warm for us on a winter's night. I remember the gaslight, and the fairy lights outside the window which were strung down the street at Christmas. But I also remember the slops bucket which she carried up the stairs to the toilet to empty every day. I remember a broken window with plastic paper cellotaped to the window frame to keep out the cold in winter, and the flies in summer, and I remember fly papers covered in bluebottles and flies.

    There is no doubt my mother had it hard, particularly after my father died. But as a child we were blessed to have been loved, and protected by my other as a lioness with her cubs. She lived in that tenement flat until she died in 1984.

    And just like Lee Dunne, we could all write about our experiences I'm sure, good and bad.


«1

Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 588 R.Dub.Fusilier


    the programe was good and bryan murray had a connection to it by family ties and from making Strumpet City, which imo was one of the best series that RTE ever made. but the problem is that TV3 have made it and like most of their stuff it will most likely fall at the last fence , which i hope won't happen.

    can't say i think much of Lee Dunne. i thought it was the height of disrespect when he refered to the children as "f**k**s".


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    I agree, completely uncalled for. I quite liked Bryan Murray's presentation. At first his accent was a little surprising but then I myself do not sound like 'Mewer Street' either, and I put that down to the fact that my mother used to have the BBC World Service on the wireless which I listened to as well, and she encouraged me to read as much as possible. So although I don't have a University education with an accent to match, I can accept Bryan Murray's accent when he says 'Dahblin' for Dublin!! I too hope TV3 don't hash it up. Am a little worried about the 'reality' aspect of it sending in the family - I lived it myself.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,577 ✭✭✭ jonniebgood1


    Jellybaby1 wrote: »
    Am a little worried about the 'reality' aspect of it sending in the family - I lived it myself.
    The reality tv part could be a bit unnessesary but will have to give it a chance. on the plus side the list of contributors were all good.
    There was an alternative view of Lee Dunnes F....ers comment in the herald along with an accurate summary of the reality aspect
    Author Lee Dunne, whose breakthrough novel Goodbye to the Hill was set in the tenements, emotionally recalled his mother slicing a loaf of bread in two to share with neighbours who had none.

    "I wrote for all the little f****rs around me who died of TB," he said, bitterly.

    With material as powerful as this, it's regrettable that The Tenements feels the need to introduce a reality TV element to the mix, whereby several generations of the Winston family will be spending a weekend recreating the tenement experience by living in the old family home at No 7 Henrietta Street, which, like many of the old dwellings, is now an artist's studio. The grim history of Dublin's tenements is a compelling story that doesn't require questionable gimmickry to prop it up. http://www.herald.ie/entertainment/tv-radio/a-truly-horrible-history-2839854.html


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    It's unfortunate that the Irish find it so natural to regularly abuse the English language in this way. It's only when you travel to other countries and realise the rest of the English speaking world don't do it quite so viciously. I personally find it obnoxious. However that's off the subject. I'm looking forward to the next instalment and hope it doesn't disappoint.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,345 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Tabnabs


    I know the tenements didn't just include Henrietta Street, but here is an interesting document regarding the conservation works that have been carried out and a wider piece on the street

    http://www.dublincity.ie/SiteCollectionDocuments/plean_caomhantais_shraid_henrietta_street_conservation_plan.pdf

    On the subject of the abuse of the English language, if you spend some time in the North of England, you'd know we Irish are amateurs in comparison.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 588 R.Dub.Fusilier


    like many thousands of Dubliners my family , on my mothers side, lived in many of the tenements and slum areas of Dublin including Gardiner St. Domnic St. Church St. Kennedys Cottages and Turners Cottages to name a few. dont let the name cottage give you a false impression , a photo of kennedys cottages appears in the book "Darkest Dublin" from around the time my Grandmother was born there and it is a kip."Darkest Dublin" is a good book on the subject as it deals with the Church St disaster and has many photos of the tenements of the time. my great grandparents lost a couple of children to tenement living and many of them died in early adulthood , maybe due to their early childhood.

    one important thing that was touched on in the programe was that a lot of these tenement buildings where owned by Irish people as with the building that fell down in the Church St disaster.

    i think we all hope that TV3 do the subject of Dublins Tenements justice as it is an important part of history that a lot of people would like to forget for various reasons.


  • Registered Users Posts: 47 ✭✭✭ Shegull


    I must say I really enjoyed the first episode of this series.

    My parents lived in 3 Henrietta Street in the early 1950's. Unfortunately they both died a long time ago, but I have no doubt that they would have been interested in this programme as well. I am very interested in 'the old Dublin' and had a nostalgic trip to Henrietta Street only a few months ago and would have so loved to have heard what it was like back when they lived there. It is such a shame that the house is completely boarded up now. It looks like it is about to fall down.

    In an ideal world I would win the lotto and buy it and do it up in all its glory. My husband joked that I would probably be able to buy it for €1 if I had the money needed to do it up.

    So sad that these places have been left to fall into disrepair.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,453 Delancey


    Its a very interesting topic though I share the view of others that TV3 will ultimately screw it up.

    The reality TV aspect is regrettable but did we actually expect anything better from TV3 ?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 588 R.Dub.Fusilier


    jus thought i would attach some pictures , i am sure most of you have seen them all before.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    I've seen a lot of old tenement photos and I have to say as poor as our family was, compared to those photos, we lived in luxury!! Even though every stick of furniture was broken in one way or another and was purchased in the markets, there was wallpaper on the walls and lino on the floors and we had a gas cooker, a gas fire and a gas light, plus (wow!) electricity, and a pole on the back windowsill from which there was a wire looped from the wall to the end of the pole, for drying clothes. Laundry was washed in a metal bath, same as us. That Monty Python sketch (The young today don't know they're born!), comes to mind. :)


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19,987 ✭✭✭✭ mikemac


    Along Henrietta St you see metal bollards to stop parking.
    Is it true that's to keep weight off the street as there are old cellars underneath there and there may be danger of collapse?
    Not sure where i read that but I remember it from somewhere

    570858_15a00b7a.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,777 ✭✭✭ shanew


    The idea of using bollards the reduce the weight over the cellars is mentioned in the conservation plan - see link above.


    Shane


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 lauraw


    I think its a great programme so far. As for the so called reality tv aspect thats airing tonight i cant wait to see it. I think people are getting it wrong its not goin to be like watching big brother or something like that , its just goin to be the family showin how they did things back then without cookers, washing machines ect. I think its great for the younger generations to be watching it and c how lucky we are now.
    Dont be knocking it till yous see it guys!!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 588 R.Dub.Fusilier


    i didint think too much of the reality bit of the programe. i thought the mother of the Winstons was brilliant, she seemed like a real lady and like a real woman of her time she just got on with what she had to do, probably without complaint.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    I agree 100%. Mammy Winston was the star of the show! Go Mammy!:D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 lauraw


    I agree guys my nannie is the star off the show:D. Looking great at 87 years old. :):)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    I should have copped lauraw who you were!!! When I listened to your nan I could hear the voices of the women I knew from those days - it was great to hear her speaking. 'You just did what you had to do', sums it all up. If anyone wants to catch up check out: http://www.tv3.ie/shows.php?request=thetenements&tv3_preview=&video=38787

    I am very interested in this history and the subject of the landlords/ladies has made me want to find out who owned our house. I remember one Mrs ? in particular who collected our rent. Nothing was ever done in the house to make it more habitable or even comfortable. I wonder where they lived? When my aunts/uncles/cousins were shipped out to the suburbs to Corporation houses, we had to stay behind in our flat. Why? Because the Corporation said we had more than enough room to live in as we were only four people. No mention of the lack of plumbing facilities. Eventually my mum lived in the house alone as we had got married and got our own homes, and the other tenants had been given houses, and my mum was left there until she died in 1984. Very strange to say, but had we been a bigger family we would have been better off in the end.:(


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    Just been reading this - very interesting reading about the poor of the Dublin tenements.

    http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/page8.html

    I don't think the link will give you what I found but its an online book as under and I read part 8 'How the Dublin Poor Live':
    Reminiscences of Sir Charles Cameron, CB

    Dublin; Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., Publishers to the University
    London; Simpkin, Marshall & Co., Ltd.
    1913.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    New instructions for the Chapters link above in case anyone wants it:


    Go to http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/page2.html

    Do a search (Alt+E+F) for Cameron

    Under ‘Cameron’ the last title is Contents of Reminiscences of Sir Charles Cameron

    Click ‘Part 8 ‘


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,731 MarchDub


    Thanks Jelly - Great link and really great resource for information on how people lived in Dublin in the early 20th century. The average wage table and the average food consumed at each meal is really interesting.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    MarchDub wrote: »
    Thanks Jelly - Great link and really great resource for information on how people lived in Dublin in the early 20th century. The average wage table and the average food consumed at each meal is really interesting.

    You're most welcome. Glad you found it interesting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 446 ✭✭ man1


    lauraw wrote: »
    I think its a great programme so far. As for the so called reality tv aspect thats airing tonight i cant wait to see it. I think people are getting it wrong its not goin to be like watching big brother or something like that , its just goin to be the family showin how they did things back then without cookers, washing machines ect. I think its great for the younger generations to be watching it and c how lucky we are now.
    Dont be knocking it till yous see it guys!!

    Don't think they had camp beds and sleeping bags back then:confused:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19,987 ✭✭✭✭ mikemac


    Send the family down the docks to carry a few hundred bags of coal.
    Or maybe shovel and bag grain in suffocating heat and dust in a ships hull.

    Few enough Irish workers fit and ready for this work nowadays or maybe it's just me
    I'd be passed out before lunchtime


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    After three episodes I'm still locked into the series. It still tells the true story of the time. And I have a confession to make - I love Mammy Winston! And that coddle looked gorgeous, I could smell it and taste it, the saltiness of the rashers must have been at heart attack levels in those days and the fat from them and the sausages must have been floating on top but I wish I could have had a bowl of it last night! There's not so much salt allowed in the rashers these days of course. I cried as I watched Mammy enter the house. I cried when I heard the familiar stories about Artane and the schools.

    The only query I have is about the inspectors arriving at a house looking for a 13 year old who had left school to get a job as a messenger. I wonder was the child younger than 13 as I left school at 13 years of age and no-one knocked on our door, that was in the 60's and a lot of children were working at 13/14/15 years of age as I recall.

    Another thing - was there wet paint on that pallet lads?? Lol!

    Roll on next week.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,731 MarchDub


    Jellybaby1 wrote: »
    The only query I have is about the inspectors arriving at a house looking for a 13 year old who had left school to get a job as a messenger. I wonder was the child younger than 13 as I left school at 13 years of age and no-one knocked on our door, that was in the 60's and a lot of children were working at 13/14/15 years of age as I recall.

    The official school leaving age was 14 - but many parents would just sign off that the child was 14 when he might have been younger. I don't think too many jobs required proof of age back then like a birth cert. I can remember some kids leaving primary school at 13 and 14 - and going to factories when the parents couldn't afford secondary school. If you remember most primary schools then had a 'seventh class' beyond Primary Cert for those not going on to secondary school - which was all fee paying back then. No free secondary.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    MarchDub wrote: »
    T If you remember most primary schools then had a 'seventh class' beyond Primary Cert for those not going on to secondary school - which was all fee paying back then. No free secondary.

    Thank you for this MarchDub. I have to say I was one of those who were in 7th class. I had forgotten all about that and I did often wonder why I had been in Primary School until 13, and you've cleared the mystery. I knew I had never been held back. Absolutely no free secondary education and no-one ever informed me that there was anything beyond Primary:eek: No money to send me to further education anyway but kids weren't consulted/informed then about options. Work or starve.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 588 R.Dub.Fusilier


    the programme is not the best i have seen but i will watch till the end. one of my mothers brothers spent some time in Artane and was treated very badly but he was lucky enough to bump into one of his tormentors in later life and got some justice himself. the reality part now is a dead duck, it was great for the family to go to their old home and relive memories but i would rather if TV3 told the stories , such as they are, about tenement life around 1890s rather than 1960s.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,731 MarchDub


    Jellybaby1 wrote: »
    Thank you for this MarchDub. I have to say I was one of those who were in 7th class. I had forgotten all about that and I did often wonder why I had been in Primary School until 13, and you've cleared the mystery. I knew I had never been held back. Absolutely no free secondary education and no-one ever informed me that there was anything beyond Primary:eek: No money to send me to further education anyway but kids weren't consulted/informed then about options. Work or starve.

    Yes...I had some friends who went into 7th class and some had to stay there for two years because of the turning 14 thing. So the Primary School that I went to had a sort of upper and lower 7th to accommodate this. I left after the Primary Cert and went to a secondary but they were doing the same kind of study that I was doing in secondary so it was actually quite a decent education - or I should say the Primary education back then was much better and more advanced than what is done there nowadays.

    And the problem for families wasn't just the money to send kids to secondary - wages were so low that many families couldn't actually afford to keep and feed a growing family without the older ones bringing in a wage.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1


    MarchDub wrote: »
    ...... so it was actually quite a decent education - or I should say the Primary education back then was much better and more advanced than what is done there nowadays.

    And the problem for families wasn't just the money to send kids to secondary - wages were so low that many families couldn't actually afford to keep and feed a growing family without the older ones bringing in a wage.

    Primary must have been at a very high standard then because I remember when my children when to secondary school and they only started learning stuff I had learned in Primary! Another thing was my knowledge of Geography is still better than my childrens', seems they don't think its important to teach capital cities, or where they are situated, any more.

    A 14 year old boy could eat as much as any adult man, and more especially as the work was so hard, so any extra income would have been a necessity to feed empty bellies.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,731 MarchDub


    Jellybaby1 wrote: »
    Primary must have been at a very high standard then because I remember when my children when to secondary school and they only started learning stuff I had learned in Primary! Another thing was my knowledge of Geography is still better than my childrens', seems they don't think its important to teach capital cities, or where they are situated, any more.

    I agree - I remember doing much more in Primary school than I see nowadays. Before Secondary education was opened to all, if you remember, many of the apprenticeships began at age 14 so Primary education was taken much more seriously then. Writing and grammar were stressed from 'high babies' [the blue lines and the red lines always gave me grief and those ink nib pens and ink wells! :D] and we did a lot of geography and history. I can also remember knowing a lot of Yeats poetry by heart before age ten - and Mangan's poems.

    Even for the kids that went to Secondary -at Inter cert level you could take the bank exams and the junior civil service exams and begin work there at age 15 or 16.

    Different world...:)


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