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TF - Thomas Fitzpatrick public health cartoons

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Illustrations of a scene at an unhygienic dairy yard. The problem of unhygienic dairies and contaminated milk was acute in this period. In 1878, 67 cases of typhoid fever occurred in Fitzwilliam Square and surrounding areas. Cameron was able to trace the outbreak to a dairy where two cases of the disease had occurred, and the spread to contaminated milk. The Lancet stated that this research would be a 'classic case'. As the cartoon shows a number of diseases could originate from unhygienic dairy yards including tuberculosis (the white plague), consumption, measles, smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid fever. Cameron was active in campaigning for improved conditions in dairy yards, and was probably partly responsible for the decline in numbers of such yards from 1,100 in 1886 to 226 in 1914.

February 1908

Illustration focusing on the death rates in Dublin, which are identified as the highest in Europe. This is a version of 'Dear, Dirty Dublin. Wanted a Public Health Department', a cartoon published in 'The Lepracaun Cartoon Monthly' in December 1908. Against a background of disease-ridden and decaying slums (some owned by 'City Fathers' - members of Dublin Corporation), an outraged Miss Dublin serves a notice upon the slumbering Public Health Department which states that Dublin has the 'Highest death rate in Europe'. She carries a cat-o-ninetails to whip him into action. The problems facing the Dublin slum dwellers are outlined: disease, defective drains, open sewers, crime, slaughter houses, and contaminated milk. The risk of contagious diseases such as consumption (tuberculosis), diphtheria, and typhoid fever spreading to the rest of the city made middle-class readers anxious for rapid reform.

December 1908

Printed cartoon entitled 'The Corporation Unemployed', from 'The Leprecaun' February 1910. The text under the title states that 'During the recent snow in the city the streets were neglected for days. We venture to offer the above suggestion.' The foreground shows members of Dublin Corporation going to work in the freezing cold with a sweeping brush, spade and shovels. Their implements show their job titles - Lord Mayor, town clerk, medical officer of health, comptroller of rates, and (member of) cleansing committee - and their annual salaries. This depiction suggests that Corporation members should be clearing snow from the streets, as a useful return for the wages they are paid. Ordinary members of the public are shown in the background with a banner that states 'Give us work for our wages. We are starving'. The printed version is stuck to the reverse of the original drawing of the cartoon, which is minus its title and text.

February 1910

Illustration of a scene at a slaughter house in Bull Alley, Dublin. Unhygienic dairy yards and slaughter houses were common in the Dublin slums, and added much to the public health problems in the areas. The owners of these formed a powerful lobby in resisting attempts to reform the areas, some even being members of Dublin Corporation and so having a vested interest in stopping sanitary reforms. The slaughter house man in the cartoon is telling the Corporation sanitary inspector that his boss might well be a member of Dublin Corporation soon, and that he could use that position to remove the inspector from his position. Bull Alley was one of the worst slum areas of the Dublin Liberties at the end of the 19th century, and between 1891 and 1915 the Iveagh Trust cleared much of the worst accommodation and replaced it with new affordable housing.

June 1908

Illustration of an incident at a dairy, depicting an overweight farmer being led away by a stern magistrate. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the adulteration of milk with water was a common problem in Britain and Ireland. Demand was high in the cities for milk, and rich farmers were seen as adulterating their milk with water to make higher profits at the expense of the working classes. In 1860 a bill was passed in parliament to try to curb the practice of adulteration of foodstuffs. Sir Charles Cameron was one of the few public analysts in Britain and Ireland, and in this role he was particularly active in sampling milk for adulterations. In the 1860s he tested five times the number of milk samples as the rest of the UK put together.


Illustration which depicts Charles Cameron, who has been bestowed with the freedom of the city, as a guardian angel of the schoolchildren of Dublin. Cameron is depicted with a quill pen in his right hand and a piece of parchment in his left which states 'Address to Chas A Cameron. Freedom of the Dublin'. Cameron is surrounded by celebrating schoolchildren. This illustration probably date from February 1911, when Cameron was bestowed with the Honorary Freedom of Dublin.

[February 1911]

Illustration which shows a scene in 'Sloblands Park', an place in which environmental damage is extensive: trees have been cut down, rubbish is 'shot', and typhoid is rampant. In the background there are gravestones bearing the names of 'Waterford', 'Belfast', 'The City of Limerick', 'Derry' and 'Cork'. A design for the cartoon titled 'A Municipal Tree-O' published in the December 1908 edition of The Lepracaun. The cartoon shows members of Dublin Corporation, including Sir Charles Cameron (Medical Superintendent Officer of Health) and the Lord Mayor, participating in a tree planting ceremony at the Fairview Sloblands on 31 October 1908 to celebrate Arbor Day. The trees were named for six Irish cities. In the autumn of 1908 a typhoid epidemic broke out in the suburb of Clontarf. There were almost 150 cases recorded between September and December. Charles Cameron identified that the affected households all obtained milk from the same local dairy, and concluded that one of its employees must have been a typhoid carrier. However, some residents and sections of the press (including The Lepracaun) linked the outbreak to the controversial municipal acquisition of mudflats at nearby Fairview a few years previously to create a public park - but which was also used by the Corporation a landfill site to dispose of the city's refuse. The enduring influence of the miasma theory of disease transmission was reflected in the argument that it was the Slobland 'emanations' (from the waste deposited there) that had caused the typhoid outbreak. Three figures are depicted in the foreground. The figure on the left is Charles Cameron, who holds a placard stating 'Charley your (sic) my darling'. This corresponds closely to the name of a traditional Scottish song, 'Charlie is my darling'. This may have been a deliberate reference to the fact that Charles Cameron's father was Scottish. The figure in the middle appears to be a Lord Mayor. He is holding a placard stating 'Sweet little buttercup'. This seems to reference the opera 'H.M.S. Pinafore' in which an unpleasant and quick-tempered character, Poll Pineapple, is given the ironic nickname 'Little Buttercup' by the rest of the ship's crew. The figure on the right is a Comptroller of Rates, who holds a placard stating 'Oh woodman spare that tree'. This is a song by George Pope Morris in 1837 in which the lyrics protest against the destruction of the environment.


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