The 20th century was a time of change. Two world wars changed the face of Europe, human rights became a priority with women and African Americans fighting for basic rights and Ireland became a republic. This complete 180 that the world and indeed Dublin experienced is brought to life brilliantly in one of Dublin’s newest museums – 14 Henrietta St.
It’s a museum like no other I’ve ever been to concentrating on a change that happened in Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century - when the English upper class vacated their Georgian homes leaving them to become tenements and in turn Dublin becoming a city with some of the worst slums in Europe.
It’s a journey through one of the best cases of juxtaposition I’ve ever witnessed. How these once great and grand Georgian homes that housed families with servants and cooks became, instead, a home to over 100 different people with families of up to 12 people living in small one room flats with no access to running water.
The museum is a triumph in conservationism with original nails in walls, the exact shade of paint used throughout and artefacts such as pictures and furniture which allow you to feel as if you have truly stepped back in time. The house itself airs to this quality of time travel with smells and temperatures changing as you go from room to room.
The personal stories, as relayed by our brilliant host Tracey, that came from inhabitants of the house really cap off what is already a wonderful museum experience. While Dublin’s history is forged with stories of the brave men and women of the Easter Rising, of the Vikings who built the city of great artists and writers this part of history, tenement living in the city, is now being shed a light on and it’s something we shouldn’t shy away from.