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Vibrant and Populous Cities

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Chapter 5 of A Purgatory of Misery describes the growth and development of Ireland’s principal centres of population, revealing a further contrast between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’  in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Irish society.

Whilst the cities were home to the merchant classes, profiting from the trade in food produced in the countryside, those who did the work of producing that food led a hand-to-mouth existence. Those of them who migrated from the countryside to the city in hope of sharing some of the city’s wealth mostly ended up in slum dwellings on the fringes of the city. Not unlike the situation in many developing countries today!

If you are visiting for the first time and want to read from the beginning, start here with the introduction. To continue to Chapter 5 click here.

Dublin slum – this is from 1880, three decades after the famine. Poverty was, however, still widespread despite the reduction in the island’s population. Image from Irish Historian Selection, August 2013.


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