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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Promenading and servants: How the rich lived in 1916

Guided walking tours will depart from the James Larkin statue every half hour from 11.30am
Guided walking tours will depart from the James Larkin statue every half hour from 11.30am
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

AS the year-long Easter Rising commemorations kick off, new research into the lifestyles in the early years of the 20th century paints a picture of a Dublin society divided not just by politics and religion, but by wealth.

The well-heeled travelled by horse-drawn carriages and brought servants with them as they lived the high life in the city.

And the social divide was even sharper in the capital for our ancestors who lived through the lock-out of 1913 and the Rising three years later.

Joe Brady of the School of Geography in UCD said: "You have to remember there was a whole set of well-to-do people who took themselves out to the suburbs and that was a whole other world. They paid their own rates to their landlords and not Dublin Corporation so the local authority was cash-starved and didn't have all this money to help the poorer sections of society."

But even during the turbulent times between the lock-out and the Rising, the wealthy lived their lives as if in a vacuum.

"They still came into the city to work, enjoy the theatre and shop," added Brady.

"They looked to London and Paris and St Petersburg for fashion. They had horse-drawn carriages that brought them into the shops and a footman to help them down from the carriage and to help them with their purchases."

And they weren't shy about letting others know they had money to burn.

"I love the idea of this set of people 'promenading' in the afternoon - walking up and down Grafton Street and around St Stephen's Green, showing themselves off and seeing who else was around," said Brady.

"They would bring their servants with them too when they went to visit the city. Hotels like The Shelbourne and The Metropole had a servants' wing so help was always on hand. The servants would eat in the separate quarters in the hotel.

"The upper middle classes lived in Pembroke and Waterloo Road and then further south. There was a great difference between the two sides of the canal. The differences were even greater back then than today's Celtic Tiger - these folks had a very exclusive lifestyle."

Mr Brady is one of a number of lecturers taking part in a wider schedule of events tomorrow, as part of RTE's 'Road to the Rising'.

At the GPO, you can record your views and memories passed on through the generations in sound booths, consult expert genealogists about your family during this period and have your memorabilia of the Rising and other events of the time valued by expert assessors.

These free-ticketed events take place between 11am and 4pm and can be booked at 01 6030346.

You can step back into history on O'Connell Street which will be pedestrianised for the day and feature a fully restored tram, a vintage carousel and a period steam engine.

Outside the GPO, a hot air balloon will rise 80ft into the air, while actors will be on stage underneath to recreate major milestones of life a century ago - including all the pomp and ceremony of a period funeral, recreated by undertakers Masseys.

You can also enjoy one of the fully guided walking tours, departing from the James Larkin statue every half hour from 11.30am.

The High Kings, The Kilkennys, Jack L, the 4-in-a-bar barbershop quartet and An Post Mens' Choir will be among a host of musical acts entertaining crowds from 11am on the Music Hall Stage on O'Connell Street, while a tented village demonstrating fashion and millinery from the age, and a silent moviedrome will also be erected on the street.

Sunday Independent

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