The typical middle-class Dublin family in Victorian times wished to live in a safe and healthy environment, in a home that was quite close to the man's place of employment. As far as possible they sought a neighbourhood that contained people with similar interests and lifestyle and often a particular church or chapel. This was an important fact that was to be considered in Victorian times. Most new housing developments made provision for a church or a chapel and advertised this fact to future householders.
Today the majority of Irish families own their homes or at least hope to do so. In Victorian times, the majority of respectable families lived in rented houses. They moved house more easily than we do today. Tenement (flats) families flitted from one address to another, often one step ahead of the the bailiff or the debt-collector. James Joyce's was the son of a ne'er-do-well father whose embarrassments kept the family on the move. He was eventually forced to move to the north city addresses (Hardwicke St and Fitzgibbon Street). However many families that were not in financial straits also moved house at regular intervals, renting larger homes as the size of the family increased or the household became more successful and wealthy. Perhaps taking a seaside villa the Sandycove or Dalkey for the summer, or for a longer stay on medical advice.
Public health was a major consideration. As Europe suffered from epidemics of cholera. The year 1865 saw a serious outbreak of smallpox. Until the end of the nineteenth century it was generally thought that diseases were spread by gases and vapours that rose from piles of rubbish and from human waste. Disease was associated with bad smells. Living close to a cemetery, was also seen as posing a risk to health. The dirt and smoke associated with railways meant that sites close to railway stations or railway lines tended either not to be developed or they became the homes of the city's labouring class.
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