'Three toilets for 90 people' - Peter relives city tenement life

Former resident Peter Brannigan back at the tenement on Henrietta Street. Photo: Collins

Ryan Nugent

A Dublin man has told of how he and his family of 13 used to live in the tiny hallway of an old city tenement that has officially become a museum.

Peter Brannigan (78) was born in the basement of the tenement on Henrietta Street.

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


Peter, who was born in 1939, said that because he lived in the building during World War Two, the family had to survive on rations.

"It was extreme poverty, but everybody was in the same boat. We had the biggest family and we had the smallest room on the street," he said.

Former residents John Horrigan and Jane Lynch at the new Tenement Museum, which opens to the public in October. Photo: Collins

"There were no sanitary facilities and there were only three toilets for up to 90 people."

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 fam- ilies.

"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 and 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 Tenement Museum is due to open to the public four days a week from late October.

A play called Hentown opens tomorrow at the premises and will depict life in the tenements in 1963.