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My Ireland

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    meetthetourguideHenrietta Street Dublin Cityherov2 meetthetourguideHenrietta Street Dublin Cityherov2

    Meet the people of Ireland: tour guide Tracey Bardon

    Tracey Bardon, tour guide at 14 Henrietta Street, tells us what sets Dublin's tenement museum apart from other historical landmarks

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    Turning the corner on to Henrietta Street, you can't help but catch your breath. The exterior of these Georgian townhouses rise in an unbroken red-brick jigsaw from the cobbled street right up to the blue sky above. At the far end, the soft grey curves of the King's Inns arch elegantly, all perfectly hewn granite and wrought-iron gates.

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    Tracey Bardon, tour guide at 14 Henrietta Street

    It's not hard to imagine the street bustling with horse-drawn carriages, ferrying lords and ladies to exciting social events in grand drawing rooms. "Really, it was the place to be seen," says Tracey Bardon, tour guide at 14 Henrietta Street, and lifelong resident.

    One day, as Tracey was walking past, she saw the door open. "There was a woman on the doorstep and I said to her, 'God, I'd love to have a look in there. Can l?' So I popped my head in." A few weeks later, the pair bumped into each other and before she knew it, Tracey was working at reception in number 14. "It was just for the summer, but it was lovely, we even got to meet the President!"

    Meetthetourguide14 Henrietta Street Dublin Cityimage2v1 Meetthetourguide14 Henrietta Street Dublin Cityimage2v1

    Inside 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

    When the Dublin city council Culture Company took over the building, things really took off. In September 2018, 14 Henrietta Street opened its doors as a museum - and of the two vastly different periods in the building's history. Step inside and you can walk in the footsteps of the elite who once called this prestigious 18th-century dwelling home; but you can also hear about the countless impoverished Dubliners in the late 19th and early 20th century, who lived here. 

    By 1911, Henrietta Street's 20 houses were home to 1,000 people; 17 families (100 people) shared 19 flats in number 14 alone

    Despite the heavy reality of what life was like here, for Tracey it's a joy to share the stories of the people in what's become an award-winning museum. "It's a really lovely job. Every hour, different people come in. They'll show you a photo or tell you a story they remember from this place, like the man who brought his horse upstairs to sleep every night because he had nowhere to keep it. I remember my mam bringing me through the Temple [what locals call King's Inns] and telling me how she used to play up there."

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    14 Henrietta Street museum, Dublin

    "You get people [visiting the museum] who are itching to talk about a story they remember. People will come in with a marriage certificate, or a letter or a birth certificate and say, 'look, they [a relative] lived in this house, they lived in that flat!' This street is amazing."

    You can tell Tracey appreciates every memory. After all, she herself was born in a tenement house on nearby Gardiner Street

    "There's so much hidden history. It's important that this house is open as a tenement experience. It's not intimidating. We're just normal people, you're talking to real Dubliners. This is history we can connect with."