Dublin c. 1800

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Map Code: Ax01696

The Wide Streets Commission (1757) instigated demolition of Dublin’s narrow medieval streets, replacing them with spacious boulevards. Five major Georgian squares were created (Mountjoy and Rutland, north of the Liffey, St Stephen’s, Fitzwilliam and Merrion on the southside), each girdled by mansions housing the Protestant Ascendancy. Its transport links were improved; the Grand Canal opened in 1779 and O’Connell Bridge in 1786, with regular stagecoach services to other Irish cities. A municipal workforce was established (1773) responsible for cleaning, lighting and repairing the thoroughfares. Dublin gained its first police force (1786) and Guinness began brewing (1759). As a consequence, property prices boomed: by the 1790s, mansions on fashionable Merrion Square fetched £8,000, more than their London equivalents. Then came the abortive rebellion of 1798, and the Act of Union (1801), which closed the Irish Parliament, and property prices cratered. Within decades many mansions became slums: by the 1840s, their price on Merrion Square had sunk to £500.

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