Geography of Housing 1901

Geography of Housing in Holycross Ballycahill in 1901 (by Alan Joyce)

A picture of the population and the changing face of the DEDs can be obtained by analysing the nature of housing, its quality and quantity. In the nineteenth century Irish agricultural labourers were conspicuously ill-housed. Most of them lived in one or two roomed dwellings rented from farmers and roughly built of local materials such as dry-stone, mud or sods, with mud floors and thatched roofs, and sometimes even lacking door and windows (Aalen, 1986, p.287). These buildings were unfit for human habitation and were generally referred to as “cabins”.

Houses and Housing in Ireland Between 1901 and 1911

It was the Labourers Acts passed between 1883 and 1919 that forced local authorities to improve homes to rent to agricultural labourers. Improvement of the “housing of the peasantry” was also part of the programme of Davitts’s National Land League and a matter on which Davitt was prepared to collaborate with Parnell and the Home Rulers (Moody, 1981, p.237). During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there was a lot of discussion in the British House of Commons about the relationships between urban problems and rural depopulation. It was noted that large numbers of Irish poor congregated in the English slums. While ideas of “back to the land” were more influential in England, they did provide a favourable attitude towards the Irish Labourers Acts. According to Aalen ‘the priority given by Irish local authorities to rural housing over urban reflected the overwhelming rural character of the country and the acute, economic and social problems of the rural population. This was illustrated by the fact that by 1914, there were 48,000 houses built for rural labourers, while Dublin Corporation had built fewer than 1,500 houses’ (Aalen, 1986, p.288).

Table 5.1: Number of Houses in Ireland in 1901 and 1911

 

 

 

1901

 

1911

Ireland

 

 

858,162

 

861,879

Sources: 1901 and 1911 Census

Table 5.2: Number of Houses in the DEDs in 1891, 1901 and 1911

 

DED

 

1891

1901

1911

Holycross

236

201

226

Ballycahill

165

140

135

Sources: 1891 Census, 1901 and 1911 M.S.S. Census

Holycross and Ballycahill DED experienced a sharp decline in house numbers, as they lost over seventeen percent between 1891 and 1901

Table 5.3: Change in the Number of Houses Between 1891 and 1911 (in percent)

 

DED

 

1891-1901

1901-1911

Holycross

-17

 

11+

Ballycahill

-18

 

-4

Sources: 1891 Census, 1901 and 1911 M.S.S. Census

These results that were occurring in the DEDs were all part of a general decline in the number of houses, which was occurring throughout the country. Between 1901 and 1911, there was some remarkable changes in the numbers of housing in the DEDs in contrast to the period 1891-1901.

1901 and 1911 Holycross DED had an increase in the number of houses, while Ballycahill and DED had just a small decrease in the number of houses (see Table, 5.3). Holycross DED’s increase in the number of houses in the period 1901-1911 corresponded with its increase in population which increased by around six percent.

Number of Houses in the Sample Townlands Between 1891 and 1911

Analysing housing on a townland level I attempted to find out whether differences in the rates of change in the number of houses between 1891 and 1911 existed on an extreme local level. What can be noted from the figures of Tables 5.2 and 5.3 was the diversity of results that existed in each DED with regard to a decline in the number of houses and how they differed to the DEDs as a whole. Both Cormackstown and Holycross had contrasting results, as Cormackstown had an eight percent decrease, while Holycross did not show any drop in the numbers of houses in the period 1891 and 1901 (see Table, 5.5). In stark contrast, Holycross DED had a sharp decline of seventeen percent in the number of houses between 1891-1901. In the townland of Holycross the number of houses remained the same: this continuity might have been due to the cluster of houses that was situated within its boundary where there was a less dependence on agriculture and a greater variety of occupations (see Fig. 5.1). The townland of Ballycahill was similar to Holycross in that it did not have any drop in the number of houses between 1891 and 1901 (see Table, 5.4). Ballinahow in contrast had a decrease in the number of houses which was the same as that of Ballycahill DED as a whole in the period 1891-1901.

Table 5.4: Sample Townlands: Number of Houses in 1891, 1901 and 1911

 

Townland

 

1891

1901

1911

Holycross

23

23

27

 

Cormackstown

48

38

35

 

Ballycahill

10

10

9

 

Ballinahow

39

33

32

 










Sources: 1891 Census, 1901 and 1911 M.S.S. Census

Table 5.5: Sample Townlands: Change in Number of Houses Between 1891 and 1911(in percent)

 

Townlands

 

1891-1901

1901-1911

Holycross

0

 

15+

 

 

Cormackstown

-8

 

-9

 

 

Ballycahill

0

 

-11

 

 

Ballinahow

-18

 

-3

 

 










Sources: 1891 Census, 1901 and 1911 M.S.S. Census

It appears that 1901 was a turning point in the sample townlands with regard to the numbers of houses. Between 1891 and 1901 the rate of decline was substantial for the DEDs and for the townlands chosen as well with the exception of the townlands of Holycross and Ballycahill.

Our next artiicle will be about the Class of Housing in 1901



Previous page: History of Holycross Ballycahill
Next page: Community