One of many
The popular image of Meade, that of exploitative tenement landlord, perhaps owes more to the century following his death. A plaque erected by Uinseann MacEoin, the architect and historian, having acquired houses on the street noted that, “In 1908 its fine door cases and chimney pieces were removed by Alderman Meade who turned the houses into tenements in which more than 70 lived.” Twentieth century histories of Dublin would pin even later crimes on Meade - discussed as a ‘slumlord’ of the Lockout times, by which time he was longer still dead.
In truth, Meade was far from the most exploitative landlord in the Dublin of his day, obituaries noted his significant philanthropy, while one voice in the 1914 inquiry noted that Meade, "practically reconstructed these houses inside and formed them into flats and provided them generally with sanitary accommodation." The same report revealed that the relationship between local politician and tenement living had only increased, with fourteen Aldermen named. Several owned more than a dozen houses each.
Donal Fallon is a historian, broadcaster and curator from Dublin. Formerly Historian in Residence to Dublin City Council, he is the author of numerous studies of twentieth century Dublin, including The Pillar: The Life and Afterlife of the Nelson Pillar (New Island, 2013). He produces the Three Castles Burning podcast and has contributed to publications including Jacobin, Dublin Historical Review, Saothar and The Irish Times. He is a graduate of Maynooth University, University College Dublin and the Ulster University, and lectures with the Lifelong Learning department of University College Dublin.