Dublin – Fair Maid of Ireland – sat astride the River Liffey, whose waters, gleaming and fresh within a mile or two of the City, became changed to a dubious hue as they passed under its many fine bridges.
Pride of Georgian architects and home of the eighteenth- century elite, its beautifully proportioned houses, with their fan-lighted entrances, now in whole areas housed hordes of penniless and hungry rabble. The carved front doors had long since during cold, wet winters, been chopped up for firewood; and on the marble steps, once scoured white, sat groups of black-shawled women, their ragged children – urchins indeed – playing or fighting upon the pavements.
The main thoroughfares were crowded, indeed over-full to be healthy or so it appeared to those who knew Dublin in former years. At every street corner stood groups of men, their dark and shabby clothes not speaking of prosperity nor even showing marks of physical toil. Since the end of the Great War, times had been ever harder for the great numbers of men released from war service. In those days, home industry was almost negligible and, for centuries, the industrial needs of Ireland had been provided by an England across the sea.