Ruth McManus Building Healthier Homes

Building Healthy Homes

New book launched by DCU's Ruth Mc Manus and co-author Joseph Brady called Building Healthy Homes: Dublin Corporation's First Housing Schemes 1880-1925, supported by Dublin City Council and published by Four Courts Press.

Ireland's housing crisis is rarely out of our headlines and only last month a report by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and ESRI highlighted the plight of those most vulnerable to lack of housing including homeless families, migrants, people with disabilities and young people. Lack of affordability, rising rents, supply of housing - are just some of the issues cited in the current housing crisis. 

How did we get here?

As with any major problem or crisis, it is really useful to look back and understand how things have evolved so we don't repeat the sins of the past. 

Housing policies from the 20th century

A new book Building Healthy Homes: Dublin Corporation’s First Housing Schemes, 1880-1925, co-written by our own Dr Ruth McManus, Associate Professor in the School of History and Geography at DCU, with Associate Professor Joseph Brady urban geographer formerly of UCD, provides a great opportunity to review the housing policies from the early twentieth century and understand the problems they were designed to solve.

Tackling a health and public housing crisis

During the twentieth century, Dublin Corporation transformed the urban landscape of Dublin. Its many housing developments sought to end a housing and public health crisis of immense proportions, the legacy of the nineteenth century. Its early engagement with the housing crisis was tentative and involved mostly small inner city schemes, many of which are unknown to present-day Dubliners. Yet, these schemes were built well and most continue to be lived in and appreciated.

Dublin Corporation’s First Housing Schemes, 1880-1925

This book is a commemoration and an analysis of the early schemes from the 1880s to the late 1920s. These are examined in some detail and the book is comprehensively illustrated with maps, photographs and block plans. Housing policy evolved during this time and the reader will learn that the issues faced and the solutions found remain relevant to the present day. The reader will also meet many of the significant people who shaped the city; people such as Charles Cameron, H.T. O’Rourke and P.C. Cowan.

Models for the future

The text ends with a detailed account of Marino and Drumcondra. These schemes, especially the former, represent the culmination of policy development and were seen as models for the future. The fact that they remain sought-after today is a testament to the quality of that vision.

More about the authors: 

Ruth McManus is Associate Professor of Geography in Dublin City University. She is the author of Dublin 1910-1940: shaping the city and suburbs (2002) and Crampton Built (2008), and co-editor of Leaders of the City (2013). Her interests include urban geography, suburban history, population, heritage, tourism and geography education and she is co-editor of the Making of Dublin City series.

Joseph Brady is an urban geographer and formerly of University College Dublin. He is the author of many works on the development of Dublin and co-editor of the Making of Dublin City series of books, published by Four Courts Press.