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Remembering the tenements

Tenement Dublin is an element of recent Irish history that is often forgotten or overlooked.

Many of the houses that were previously tenement buildings – if they are not demolished – are now offices, dentists and other places of work. Despite the fact that many people still alive today were born and raised in tenements, they are not often given opportunities to speak about their experiences.  

Your Tenement Memories, run by Tracey Barron in conjuncture with Dublin City Council Culture Company, is now providing an opportunity.

Barron became inspired after working as a tour guide in the tenement museum on Henrietta Street. 

“We’re talking about history, but we’re talking about people’s lives here, people who are still alive,” she said. “I was involved with the museum from when it opened, and I did a bit of work with Dublin City Council on their memory collections as well.

“I was part of the museum team as a tour guide, so I was able to hear the stories while people were chatting and while they were waiting on their tours,” she continued. 

The project began in 2018, and has been running continuously since, even through Covid. 

“We never actually stopped collecting,” Barron explains. “Over Covid we would have done over the phone interviews or one-on-one interviews.. But since Covid restrictions have lifted, we can go back into communities,” she said.  

“It’s really personal,” she says of the in-person sessions. “And it’s best practice as well.” 

Individuals can request that their stories be told anonymously, or that they not be shared outside the sessions at all. “We write the [memories] down, we keep them safe, and then we use them for different things. Some we share on our tours. Some are used in our promotional feedback, and we have a lot of them we’ve used in three books we published last year,” she said.

“Everybody doesn’t have to share their stories… If they want to keep it personal to us, that’s fine as well, they can be anonymous, we can keep it and never use it – but at least they’ll be documented in history.” 

Contact Tracey Barron by emailing memories@14henriettastreet.ie or calling 01 524 0383, or drop in to one of the live, in person sessions to share your memories, or the memories of someone you knew, who lived or worked in the tenements. The first sessions take place Tuesday, May 3rd at 14 Henrietta Street, from 10am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm. Once collected, the memories will be presented in multiple locations across Dublin city.  Visit Your Tenement Memories’ website here for more information.

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