This is a comprehensive study of the problems which the city of Dublin faced between the famine and World War One. The decline of the city's traditional industries and the rising proportion of casual labourers in the population gave rise to intense poverty which resulted in excessively high death-rates and a housing crisis.
These problems were compounded by the migration of the middle-classes to the suburbs where they established autonomous self-governing townships which failed to contribute to city taxes. The alienation of the Protestant middle-class and the growing political dominance by lower middle-class Catholics – many of them slum landlords – who attributed all social and economic ills to the Act of Union, weakened the resolve to tackle the city's major ills. However it seems doubtful whether the problems of the Dublin labouring class could have been resolved within the accepted limitations of state intervention as they existed prior to World war One.
The work draws on a wealth of sources to examine topics such as choice of marriage partners, occupational continuity between father and son, the background of tenement families and the corporation tenants, and the role of contemporary charitable institutions – topics hitherto relatively neglected in Irish historical research.