Wednesday 24 January 2018

Remembering life in the tenements as museum sheds light on hard times

Leanna Cuttel, Daniel Monaghan and Lily Rose Boss (10) will star in Hentown, a specially
commissioned play telling the story of life in the tenements, which will run in the museum from
tomorrow until October 1 Photo: Gareth Chaney
Leanna Cuttel, Daniel Monaghan and Lily Rose Boss (10) will star in Hentown, a specially commissioned play telling the story of life in the tenements, which will run in the museum from tomorrow until October 1 Photo: Gareth Chaney

Ryan Nugent

A Dublin man has recounted how he lived in the tiny hallway of an old city tenement with his family of 13.

At the launch of the new Tenement Museum in the capital, Peter Brannigan (78) spoke about being born in the basement of a tenement on Henrietta Street, where the museum is based.

He said his family - the largest on the north inner city street - were moved to the front hall of the building, living there between 1939 and 1949.

Peter was born in 1939, and explained that because he lived in the tenement during World War II, the family had to live off rations.

Peter Brannigan, a former resident of 14 Henrietta Street, during the opening of the Tenement Museum in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Peter Brannigan, a former resident of 14 Henrietta Street, during the opening of the Tenement Museum in Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney

"It was extreme poverty for everybody, but everybody was in the same boat; we had the biggest family and we had the smallest room on the street," Mr Brannigan said.

"There was no sanitary conditions and there were only three toilets for up to 90 people," he added.

Jane Lynch (56) lived there between 1961 and 1972.

"My parents lived in a room on the second floor," she said.

"We would have had heat and food but the rest of the house was bad. There would have been 12 families.

"There was no electricity on the stairs, so if you were going down at night or going up, you had to call someone to come down with a flash lamp.

"Pots and kettles of water would be boiled, put in the bath if I got in first one week, my brother got in next, my sister in next and my other sister in next."

The museum is due to open to the public in late October and will be open for four days a week, with entrance fees of €4 to €9.

Irish Independent

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