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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

VIDEO: The secrets of Dublin tenements

Why do some tenement homes have thick blue paint on the walls? An expert explains.

Number 14 Henrietta St
Number 14 Henrietta St
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

HENRIETTA ST IN Dublin was once home to the rich, the playground of people who could afford to live in grand redbrick Georgian houses that showed off their wealth and high standard of living.

But as the newly-built suburbs became the preferred stomping ground of the elite, the homeowners left and the price of the buildings dropped.

They soon went into the hands of landlords, who tried to fit as many residents as they possible could into the homes.

Number 14 Henrietta St is an example of a home that was changed considerably so that more people could live there. What is now a front room once was a space that held a grand, wooden staircase, which led upstairs to the main rooms, as Dublin City Council’s Heritage Officer Charles Duggan explained:


The ceilings and walls still bear the traces of their salubrious past, with ceiling cornices and the remnants of wall hangings still visible.

There are pockmarks from where people hammered in nails, and even some pieces of wallpaper still stuck to the walls.

Visting Henrietta St today is like stepping into a portal to the Ireland of the past, but a place that isn’t so far removed from where we are now.

It’s a look at two contrasting parts of society, the rich and the poor, and a reminder of the decades of social change that have taken place in Ireland.


Phyllis Radburn was one of the people who lived on Henrietta St. Click here to hear her story.

Read: “The street was my playground”: A journey back to the tenement days>

Read: Georgian cellars to be filled in during Luas Cross City construction>

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