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Life for the poor in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland was hard and, for many women, prostitution was the only option. But the bawdy houses were rife with disease and police did little to protect women from violent customers. Philip Reilley, a constable, and his wife Catherine were tried and convicted on October 12th, for keeping a bawdy house in White Lion Court in Strand Street, Dublin. Reilly was sentenced to three months in jail and on the following day his wife was to be whipped from Newgate Prison to Trinity College.
The Daily Gazetteer for October reported that Reilly was so loving a husband that he earnestly begged the court that he should be punished in place of his wife, but his request was denied. The case was unusual in that most of the brothels in Dublin were run by women, irish escorts there is evidence of other couples running similar bawdy houses. Many of the brothels were situated close to the centre of Dublin, located along alleyways near Christ Church Cathedral from Cork Hill, Copper Alley, Fishamble Street and Wine Tavern Street so-called because of the large of brothels, taverns and gambling houses in the area to Cook Street.
The quaysides were particularly notorious for brothels serving the seamen coming off the boats on the River Liffey. She was convicted of brothel-keeping and sentenced to be carried in a cart through the street but, because she was so popular and the police were so corrupt, she was allowed to hide in the floor of the cart to hide her from public view.
Most of what we know about prostitution in Dublin in the 18th century comes from newspaper s, which tell us that life could be dangerous: Catherine Halfpenny of Marshall Alley, Fishamble Street was targeted by rioters in ; Miss Keenan in Frederick Street North in had all of her furniture removed from her house and burned in street by a mob.
While such reports are useful and provide an idea of the public reaction to, and problems inherent in, irish escorts, relatively little is known about the real extent of prostitution in Ireland, as few other records survive. Further information can be gleaned from court descriptions, the Magdalene Asylum records and from later police s. Those involved in the legal process — judge, barristers, court officials, jurors and staff of the court apart from the cleaner — were all men.
Brothel-keepers could be charged under the Disorderly House Act ofwhich recognised that:. The multitude of places of entertainment for the lower sort of people is another great cause of thefts and robberies, as they are thereby tempted to spend their small substance in riotous pleasures, and in consequence are put on unlawful methods of supplying their wants and renewing their pleasures. It was therefore prudent for some brothel-keepers to hide their business. Suppression of individual prostitutes was mainly reliant on vagrancy and curfew laws.
Prostitutes who came before the local courts had often been arrested for crimes other than soliciting, such as stealing, irish escorts, indecency, vagrancy or public disturbance.
Statistics on prostitution in Dublin become more plentiful from onwards, when the Dublin Metropolitan Police kept records, which show 2, arrests in in Dublin alone. Other difficulties were that the public showed little interest in attempting to eradicate prostitution; this was particularly true of the soldiers who made up a large proportion of the population of Dublin. Prostitution was to be found in almost every town in Ireland but was most prevalent in garrison towns.
The Dublin Barracks dominated Dublin City, an ever-present reminder of British rule; other army camps were scattered irish escorts the coast acting as defence. With thousands of soldiers in Ireland to protect British interests, the army brought with it a ready made clientele for the prostitution business.
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Isaac Weld commented, about Roscommon, in The evil was of far greater magnitude than it appeared in view. In Castle Street, on the skirts of the town, there was actually a range of brothels, at the doors of which females stood noonday, to entice passengers, with gestures too plain to be misunderstood. He put this down to the huge military complex at Athlone in the Irish Midlands. Prostitutes followed the barracks while irish escorts were young and pretty and were obliged to beg when they had lost their good looks. The reasons women took up prostitution were numerous and varied.
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For seduced women, this meant ostracism from family and friends. Work in agriculture and domestic service were possibilities for poorer women, but the latter was seen as a route into prostitution.
With poor pay, lack of skills and without family to support them, survival for such women was bleak. Many women working on the streets were often addicted to alcohol, homeless and destitute.
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Intimidation and procuring were seen on a daily basis. Unscrupulous female brothel-keepers organised children and young women into the ever-expanding sex trade in Dublin and young girls were often impelled to work in bawdy houses for fear of recrimination. The Hibernian Journal for February reported that the police watch had interviewed a local brothel-keeper and her cronies about a prostitute who had been murdered in Temple Bar.
Although nothing was done at the time, eight months later, after a year-old Belfast girl was murdered in her lodgings in Stephen Street, having refused to go with Ann McDonagh, a brothel-keeper in Little Booter Lane, the public reacted by ransacking her brothel. This was not enough to prevent her continuing her brutal reign; in July the following year, she beat up irish escorts prostitute so badly that she lost an eye.
When another procuress, Mother Beatty of Ross Lane, had lured a girl into her brothel, the mob pelted the police with stones, believing they were failing to take proper action.
The women who worked in the profession, as elsewhere in the world, ranged from ill-dressed, half-starved street-walkers to women from wealthier backgrounds who serviced elite clients. Those who came from wealthier backgrounds would be more likely to look for a rich man to keep them.
Women in this position could expect expensive houses, credit at the merchants and a coach and four. They would have the education and the know-how to attract richer clients. Such clients included aristocratic men from Dublin Castle, the hub of British administrative rule, including the governor. When the Irish courtesan Peg Plunkett opened her elite establishment to gentlemen, these men were among her lovers.
The attraction to this kind of life was that irish escorts no longer had to rely on their keepers and could forge an independent life of considerable luxury and extravagance, answering to no-one but themselves. Nonetheless, even in higher-class establishments life was tough and their inhabitants were an easy target for the gangs of ruffians who prowled the streets, ransacking houses, beating up men and assaulting women as they went.
One of the most notorious gangs was known as the Pinking Dandies. They dressed in fine regalia and strolled around the town pricking passers-by with their swords. One commentator wrote of them. She described in her memoirs how the gang assaulted her and wrecked the house, resulting in the death of her two-year-old daughter and her unborn baby.
The gang was led by Richard Crosbie, who was later to become a famous figure when he made an attempt to cross the Irish Sea in a balloon in Although Peg successfully sued him and some of the gang members, his earlier criminal activities do not appear to have been a barrier to his future achievements. The police had difficulty controlling crime, whether gangs of marauding youths, riotous mobs or women involved in prostitution. In part this was because policing itself was problematic and half-hearted during the early 18th century.
At that time it was provided by the local watch; the official Dublin police force was not established until the Dublin Police Act of The watch was only employed to police crime between the hours of 11pm and 5am from April to Michaelmas and irish escorts to 6am for the rest of the year. Trouble outside these hours went unmonitored. In other words, they were simply not fulfilling their duties. Although prostitutes were regularly brought before the courts, they were just as regularly dismissed.
Brothel-keepers often made bribes to judges and many of the local watchmen were in the wine trade, supplying the alcohol sold in the brothel houses. Magistrates frequently rented houses to prostitutes, either the more elite women near Dublin Castle or the lower end of the market housed in Barrack Street close, as the name suggests, to the soldiers.
Two years after the new police force was introduced, the situation changed and prostitutes were routinely arrested; in17 street-walkers were arrested in Copper Alley, within the vicinity of St Stephens Green, and a further 32 were caught a few nights after; in Julyin the same area and around the Rotunda, women were rounded up.
Venereal diseases were another inevitable consequence of prostitution. Mercury was considered to be the only effective treatment and could be administered in the form of an ointment, a steam bath or a pill irish escorts, although it appeared to alleviate symptoms, it was by no means a cure. Brothel-keepers had particular irish escorts or surgeons on whom they would call for gynaecological problems, sexual diseases, pregnancy and abortions.
The less fortunate could seek treatment at the Westmoreland Lock Hospital, which had opened at Donnybrook inalthough its location outside of the city made this more difficult for Dublin city prostitutes. A new site opened inin the centre of Dublin. From the start, the hospital had treated both men and women, but from onwards treated only women and, in doing so, increased the visible association of women with the infection.
A common route out of prostitution was for a woman to enter one of the established Magdalene Asylums, such as the one on Leeson Street in Dublin, opened by Lady Arabella Denny in By Julythough, little had changed regarding the of women working in prostitution, despite the new police force being introduced. Given the of single army men in the area, it was unlikely the situation would change dramatically, although the area of Monto nicknamed after Montgomery Street, now Foley Street would take over as an area of known prostitution after the demolition of the smaller alleyways.
The story of prostitution in 18th-century Dublin is one of warring needs. For many women, prostitution was a much-needed solution for their troubles and prostitutes were seen as a necessary social evil.
But they suffered, in numerous ways, in their struggle for survival. Brothel-keepers could be charged under the Disorderly House Act ofwhich recognised that: The multitude of places of entertainment for the lower sort of people is another great cause of thefts and robberies, as they are thereby tempted to spend their small substance in riotous pleasures, and in consequence are put on unlawful methods of supplying their wants and renewing their pleasures. Isaac Weld commented, about Roscommon, in The evil was of far greater magnitude than it appeared in view. Popular articles. Non-essential Freedoms.