herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Locals can share in oral history of tenements for €1.5m museum

Henrietta Street

Charles Duggan Heritage Officer at Dublin City Council with artefacts inside the Tenement Musuem on Henrietta Street Dublin which should be open 2017. Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Charles Duggan Heritage Officer at Dublin City Council with artefacts inside the Tenement Musuem on Henrietta Street Dublin which should be open 2017. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

FORMER residents of tenement buildings in the north inner city are being asked to contribute to an oral history exhibition for a new museum.

Work is under way to restore and repair 14 Henrietta Street, which will be open to the public as the tenement museum in January 2017.

The impressive building, built in 1748, was once home to Viscount Richard Molesworth and Lord Chancellor John Bowes.

In 1882 Number 14 was the first house on Henrietta Street to be turned into a tenement - and it remained in use until the 1970s.

The house was home to some 17 families, according to census data from 1883.

In the Georgian house those restoring the building have already encountered some remnants of life in the building.

Oyster shells, believed to be the lunch of those who first built the house and found in the foundations, sit alongside 1970s lino on the artefacts table.

"A woman who came in to tell us about living here recognised it straight away as the lino from her mother's house," Charles Duggan, Dublin City Council's Heritage Officer said.

People can donate tenement artefacts which will then be displayed temporarily in the basement of the building.

People have also been contributing to the oral history project - and Mr Duggan hopes that many more will contribute before the museum opens.

"We'll put those voices onto headphones and people can listen to those personal stories.

"We feel it's the most appropriate way for people to hear these stories," Mr Duggan said.

The partition marks from the rooms can still be seen and marks on the walls indicate where pots and pans were hung in the small kitchens.

The refurbishment is to cost some €1.5m, which is being funded through a grant from the Department of Arts and Heritage.

Many of the house's original features will be restored, including a grand staircase in the entrance hall.

The paintwork in the rooms has been analysed so that it can be replicated as closely as possible.

In the upstairs of the house blue paint, which is thought to be a disinfectant, coats the upper portions of the walls.

On one wall a hand-written message warns that people who aren't residents will be prosecuted for entering.

HISTORY

"The door would have been open here all the time, so people would have had to deal with that," Mr Duggan said.

When fully restored the building will represent the three key periods in its colourful history.

Toilets and an entrance area will also be built for visitors to the building.

President Michael D Higgins is due to be among the first visitors to the finished museum in September 2016.

Anyone who wants to take part in the oral history project can contact Charles Duggan or Fiona Meade by phone 01-2223090 or email 14henriettastreet@dublincity.ie.

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