By 1880 Dublin, so long Ireland’s dominant city, was threatened with eclipse by the industrial dynamism of Belfast. The degeneration of its housing stock had been accelerated by the vast influx of the destitute during the Great Famine, who remained in decaying inner city tenements, while the middle classes fled to the suburbs. Their flight was facilitated by development of the transport network: an opulent tram network priced for the well-to-do commuter, and a total of five railway termini. Catholic Emancipation (1829) had enabled inroads into the Protest Ascendancy; Daniel O’ Connell became the first Catholic mayor in 1850, and Catholics were allowed to attend Trinity College from 1873. The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in opera and musicals, opened in 1871 and a Victorian Shopping centre, South City Markets opened ten years later. An inner ring of workhouses awaited the despairing poor, while an outer ring of barracks were ready if they became rebellious.
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