To Give Drink to the Thirsty

Behind the scene

The Irish city of Cork in the early 1800s, like many other cities and towns, did not have the necessary infrastructure to support an increasing population. An historian writing about the city noted “... the majority of inhabitants of the city were quite poor. Sanitation was of a low standard, there was no sewage system or supply of clean water and all types of waste were either thrown onto the street and or into the River Lee.” 

Included in the Grand Canal system infrastructure for Dublin, completed in 1804, was the construction of reservoirs for the storage of water. Their construction enabled the introduction of water mains to service some areas of the city. “Fountains provided a drinking water supply in the streets and these were gradually established, but not evenly spread throughout the city. The greatest concentration was to be found where there were fewer private wells, such as in the Liberties, with a smaller number elsewhere in the north city. The more affluent south-eastern quadrant had virtually no fountains.” (Goodbody, 2014, p. 3)

People living on the streets or wayfarers travelling along the roads, especially if they were weak from sickness or hunger, faced a big challenge to obtain safe water to quench their thirst.


Cork Past and Present

Goodbody, R. (2014) Irish Historic Towns Atlas No 26 Dublin Part III, 1756-1847