Picture it and write: Behind The Coloured Doors

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again; the picture is not mine, this one is from the archive of John Thompson, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy!

Behind The Coloured Doors:

When you see the grand streets of Dublin, the multicoloured doors of the Georgian quarter the only thoughts to pass through your head is that of opulent luxury. They were built for that but the majority of these houses hold a dark secret. For much of their history these houses where the scene of tremendous poverty and destitution. Slums of the highest order.

It was a question of economic change. The houses had been built as homes for the rich to be close to the Irish parliament and other centers of power. However parliament was abolished with the act of union and the wealth followed the politicians to London. That left hundreds of houses crying for alternative use.

The majority became tenement slums. Every room housing at least one family. It was cramped conditions, the bare floors invariably filthy, disease was rampant and life was for the most part a misery.

All kinds lived there. These homes were not just residences. Some commerce was also conducted. This could sometimes be the oldest profession out of some of the less grubby rooms in the upper floors or simple stall holders selling their wares on the streets outside.

This was for the most part informal and largely ignored as was most of the poverty by those in charge. It only began to change in the recent past.

After independence, with over one hundred years of grinding squalor, most of old Dublin was in a terrible state. The houses were crumbling and so were the people. The State, in one of it’s reforming moods decided to clear out the slums. New flat complexes and vast housing estates were built on the edges of the city to house all the dispossessed. These new homes had their problems but they were considerably better than the old slums had been.

As for the old buildings themselves. To many they were a stain on the city that had to be removed. Not only were they crumbling and decrepit, but their original purpose, to house the upper classes, smacked of elitism and a colonial past that many wished to be rid of.Ā 

Indeed a lot was lost. Some fell on their own accord, others were torn down for the latest modern architectural monstrosity.

But others were retained, lovingly restored and held as a jewel in the city’s crown. Today they rightly stand as a source of pride for many Dubliners. But it does right to remember that for all their, beauty behind the coloured doors lies a past of unspeakable poverty and destitution and that must not be forgotten.

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