“Dublin After the Union”


Pitt "the conjurer" is bringing the country to Dublin: turnips growing in the Royal Exchange, vermin in the Parliament House, .... "Give Pitt, and Dundas, and Jenky, a glass, Who'd ride on John Bull, and make Paddy an ass"


Croker-PopularSongs quoting from Sir John Carr's _Stranger in Ireland_: "It was a great favourite with the anti-Unionists, and I give it with more pleasure because its poetical predictions have not been verified...." - BS

The 1801 Act of Union abolished the Dublin parliament. Follow-up reforms that Pitt hoped for were not forthcoming. [The most notable of these non-reforms being the extension of the franchise to Catholics; not only did the Act of Union deprive Ireland of her parliament, but meant that her representatives in the British parliament would be Protestant. - RBW] The song sees Dublin -- its business as capital shut down -- literally going to seed.

Henry Dundas (1742-1811) - Friend and subordinate of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger (see "Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville" at the Wikipedia site). I don't know what part he played in Union.

Jenky is, apparently, Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828)(see, for example, part 12 fn 19 of _Byron's Poetical Works, Vol 1_ by Byron at fullbooks.com site), foreign secretary (1801) and home secretary (1804-6, 1807-9) (source: _Liverpool, Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2d earl of_ at encyclopedia.com site). I don't know what part he played in Union.

Pitt, Dundas and Jenky appear together in other songs (see for example: _About the Hastings Diamond and Its Ballad_ at the JJKent site; "A Gentleman's Wig" in _The Pearl_ No. 18, Dec 1880 at the immortalia.com site)

The ass as symbol of Ireland is illustrated by "The Ass's Complaint" and explained in the notes for "The Ass and the Orangeman's Daughter." - BS

We should note that the prediction here was far from true. Union didn't do much for Ireland economically, but that didn't harm Dublin much; as the major city and shipping point to Britain, it attracted most of the people who had nothing else to do with their lives.

It is true that the people of Dublin lived in absolute squalor; Robert Kee (_The Bold Fenian Men_, being Volume II of _The Green Flag_, p. 195) writes, "The poverty and squalor of much of Dublin in the early years of the twentieth century appalled all who encountered it. A government report issued in 1914 assessed that of a Dublin population of 304,000, some 194,000, or about sixty-three percent, could be recokined 'working classes'. The majority of these working classes lived in tenement houses, almost half of them with no more than one room to each family. Thirty-seven per cent of the entire working class of Dublin lived at a density of more than six persons per roon; fourteen per cent in houses declared 'unfit for human habitation.'"

Nonetheless it was the most productive place in Ireland. And it was the only part of the country where the population grew. This was most clear during the famine years, though it continued until (and even after) the First World War.The population chard in Ruth Dudley Edwards, _An Atlas of Irish History_, second edition, p. 233, makes this clear. It shows the percentage change in the populations of Ireland's counties between the 1841 and 1851 census tallies. The declines are often dramatic. Roscommon lost 31% of its population; Mayo, Longford, and Monaghan, 29%. Most were over 20%; the lowest figures were for Antrim, Down, and Wexford, at 11%. Except for Dublin. Ireland as a whole lost 20% of its population in this period -- but the population of the county of Dublin *rose* 9%. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1801 - Act of Union of Ireland and Great Britain


  1. Moylan 150, "Dublin After the Union" (1 text)
  2. Croker-PopularSongs, pp. 182-184, "Dublin After the Union" (1 text)
  3. BI, Moyl150


Author: Edward Lysaght (1763-1810) (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: 1811 (according to Moylan)
Found in: Ireland