The politics of Dublin corporation, 1840-1900

From reform to expansion

James H. Murphy

Hardback €45.00
Catalogue Price: €50.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-853-9
July 2020. 224pp

"This book offers a political history of Dublin Corporation between the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act of 1840 and the expansion of the city's electorate and its boundaries at the end of the century. In thirteen chapters, James H. Murphy gives a narrative account of the key personalities involved and the various topics that occupied debates, ranging from grandstanding over loyal addresses to Queen Victoria to the glacial speed at which major social problems, such as sanitation, were tackled by a largely uninterested elite ... Where the book stands out, is in how Murphy illuminates the day-to-day intrigue, rancor, and bellicosity of the corporation's debates ... his narrative is based on a painstaking reading of the full reports of each debate in the Freeman's Journal ("the Hansard of the Corporation") over sixty long years--which he estimates at nearly thirty million words … Murphy's mischievous sense of humor carries us through the various unsuccessful attempts to stymie reform of the corporation and of the salaried officials who feared losing their patronage as the Protestant ascendency was swept away … This book is likely to be an often-cited reference work for many years to come … it provides a valuable framework in terms of the workings of the corporation, its key personalities, and the ways social issues percolated into political debate … Through his reading of more than sixty years of often turgid and rancorous political debate, Murphy brings color and personality to the urban politics of a major European city." Richard Butler, H-Albion (January, 2021)

“Scholarly but accessible, carefully researched and thought-provoking, The Politics of Dublin Corporation makes a crucial contribution to our understanding of Dublin in the nineteenth century.” Joseph Rodgers, Irish Literary Supplement, Fall 2021

“The ancient and arcane system of governing Dublin in the form of its venerable civic council was dragged into the nineteenth-century by a reform act in 1840 … Another milestone was reached in 1900 when the city, after decades of pleading its case, was allowed extend its boundaries albeit somewhat modestly … The story of the fortunes of the corporation in that sixty-year period are here recounted with clarity and conciseness by James H. Murphy … For long, researchers and historians of Dublin whose investigations touched on aspects of civic life in this period, understood only in a vague and patchy way the various labyrinthine workings of the corporation. But no longer. This relatively short but admirably concise book shines a light on the impact on the city of deliberations in the council chamber and committee rooms over six decades.” Séamas Ó Maitiu. Dublin Historical Record. Vol. 74. 2021