I believe this figure refers to Mountjoy Square which was built as opulent Georgiana in 1791 and cost £8000 then and whose value plummeted post the Act of Union in 1801 to £2500 and thence to £500 by 1849 .
It is quoted on the first few pages of Kevin Kearns Tenement Book that schnackbox pointed us to elsewhere , it is here.
So, an unusual piece of legislation is passed and 58 years later prices fall dramatically in a single spot in rat-infested, decaying, and diseased 19c Dublin? (Let’s leave aside the small matter of the population dropping 25% during the 1845-1852 famine).
I assume, since you’re posting this in the PIN, you have some comparsion to make with today’s property prices, but it escapes me at the moment. Are you calling for the deaths of over 1 million people just so you can gets your hands on a house?
p.s. I assume your original post meant the Act of Union of 1801
Well, now, a lesson on the Irish economy, demographics and property prices from history.
The direct impact of the Act of Union (whether you pick 1800 or 1801) was to reduce the importance of Dublin politically, which had knock on effects both economically and socially. Post the Act, the Irish political classes migrated from Dublin to London. Many of these individuals were merchants, so their business and money went with them; a 19th Century Brain Drain if you will. This in turn reduced the mercantile and commercial activity in the City with knock on effects into (what then passed for) the wider economy. Once grand Georgian houses that had sprung up to offer “aspirational living” fell into decay and were subdivided into the tenements that became a feature of Dublin until very recently (The York Street buildings only being vacated and demolished in this decade).
As the Act cemented Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, Dublin and Ireland in general slipped down the global commercial pecking order and was reduced to the same level of importance within the UK as any other provincial district (all be it a from time to time more disruptive one). The effect of this was to further reduce commerce, further deepening the economic contraction and collapse of property prices.
All this before the catastrophe of the famine years, from which, 160 years later, the population levels have not yet recovered.
Are there any lessons for today from what happened in the 19th Century? While we can’t draw direct parallels, I believe, looking back, there are a couple of broad themes we can see;
First off, as some people are only learning now, but most pinsters already knew, Irish property can go down just as dramatically as it went up (all be it that the example here is rather extreme).
Secondly, economies, especially our small peripheral one, can be affected directly by external factors. We’re not likely to be reduced to provincial status again, but, we have already seen the effects of the external shock that the global banking crisis has had here. Other external events could negatively impact on us too. For example, should the US pass legislation to chase the Transfer Pricing activities of US HQ’d companies here or perhaps a significant conflict involving NATO somewhere on the globe (how many NATO members are in the Euro Zone?).
Third, the Irish have a long tradition of migration. Whether the motivation was economic, conflict, lifestyle or just survival, a significant proportion of the population of this little island is more than willing to up sticks and move elsewhere which could significantly undermine the viability of the economy.
Really interesting stuff, although I am addicted to economic history, so you had me at “1791”.
For those who are interested in some labour market perspective for the period in question, the Loyal National Repeal Association had a meeting in 1840 where they discussed figures compiled by one Mr. W. J. Battersby on wages and employment in Dublin, 1800 versus 1834.
The figures cover a range of about 50 occupations, from the three master wool-combers in Dublin in 1800 to the 1300 shoe-makers in 1840. The figures are shocking in terms of the economic decline they show - employment in the 50 occupations fell 80% in the period from over 52,000 to below 10,000. (One thing I don’t know - yet - is how exhaustive these 50 occupations were in both years.)
Not surprisingly, nominal wages fell 40-50% on average - the median occupation went from earning L1.50 to L0.77.
Blue Horseshoe has picked out a couple of interesting lessons. One I’d add something to is migration. Dublin was actually a centre for migration in the first half of the 19th Century. Rev. T. Willis, writing about his St. Michan’s Parish in Social and Sanitary Conditions of Dublin Working-Classes in 1845, discusses the backgrounds of 25 parishioners from the ‘working classes’, hopefully chosen at random. 14 were born outside Dublin - a sign of significant migration to the capital despite (because of?) a deep economic decline.
(Incidentally, for those curious, the weekly rent for a one-room working class lodging in the 1840s was about 2 shillings. Two rooms could cost you up to 3 shillings.)
A tempting explanation but not actually as much of a factor as you might think, due to the corollary of your point - inflation was largely just a Napoleonic affair. The price of a loaf of bread cost on average 8.2 pence in the late 1790s (all stats from A History of Dublin Bakers). The average for the 1840s very similar (7.7 pence) - in 1848, the price was 8 pence.
It was only in the bizarre economic climate of the 1810s that prices went out of kilter, averaging 15 pence and peaking at 21.5 pence in 1817.
There was a famine in 1817 to top off the inflation , 1816 was the year of no summer was it not ??, Tambora had just popped. Had Tambora not popped the inflation would have peaked in 1815 not two years later .
Cormac O Grádas book, “Ireland Before and After the Famine” is on Google books and the primary source references may be seen at the end
2Pack, indeed, recommend this book “Ireland Before and After the Famine”. It provides a great outlook of all the well-known puzzles of Irish economic history including the inevitability of the Famine, the role of land tenure in agricultural backwardness, and the failure of the economy to industrialize.
DATA FROM the sale of almost 200 homes in the Dublin area seen by The Irish Times show that house prices in the capital have dropped by up to 52 per cent since 2007.
The data relates to 192 sales conducted by one of the country’s leading estate agencies in the first four months of 2009.
The properties represent a wide range of homes at virtually every level of the market and in most postal districts. The majority of the 192 homes sold had been on the market since 2008, with some properties on sale since 2007.
At long last, the pointless facade crumbles away and the ugly truth is shown.
The €500bn of property wealth we “had” in 2007 is now a heavily toxic-debt encumbered €260bn.
And the amount that will have to be paid for this wealth? Certainly not less than €1 trillion.