At present, the city is undoubtedly witnessing with a very real housing crisis. It is by no means the first.
In 1963, over a period of only weeks, four lives were lost in Dublin when tenements came crashing down to the ground in Bolton Street and Fenian Street. On both sides of the Liffey, it became apparent many working class Dubliners were still living in accommodation that was unfit for human habitation. We’ve looked at this crisis on the blog before. It was fifty years on from the Church Street tenement collapses of 1913, an eerie reminder that for many, life had changed little. When a tenement collapsed on Fenian Street, two passing children were killed. In our 2013 post we noted:
There were scenes of anguish on the streets at the time, with the Irish Press writing that “Hundreds of Dubliners, many visibly crying, crowded the narrow streets leading to the scene of the collapse as firemen and Gardaí frantically shoveled bricks, rubble and mortar aside to reach the victims.” The two young girls, described by their loved ones as inseparable, were returning home from buying sweets at a corner shop. One man, Andrew Dent, jumped for his life from the collapsing tenement.
The plaque on a housing scheme on Fenian Street today is a simple reminder of this tragic event, naming young Linda Byrne and Marion Vardy, and noting that after this tragedy, “the project of clearing inner city tenements began in earnest. Within a decade the population of Westland Row Parish had fallen from 20,000 to less than 6,000.”This image from the Irish Photo Archive gives a sense of the destruction on the street following the tragedy.
I have often missed it passing by, though the plaque is relatively new, not appearing in this 2014 Google Street View image (the plaque is located more or less immediately behind the parking signage today):