Caution – Census Data Being Used: exploring and understanding errors and falsification in the Irish census


  • Frank Houghton Eastern Washington University, Spokane
  • Sharon Houghton University of Limerick
  • Lisa Scott Limerick Institute of Technology



There are currently 23 bridges over the Liffey westwards from Lucan but only five of them were built east of O’Connell Bridge since 1850 and one is a pedestrian only bridge. This was despite a pressing need for a better system of traffic circulation that was obvious from the middle of the nineteenth century as the city and its docklands continued their eastwards expansion. That need was recognised by the civic authorities but the complex system of local governance with overlapping responsibilities ensured that satisfactory solutions were difficult to achieve. There were issues of power, of funding and of taxation as well as competing needs. Even the naming of bridges could not be easily accomplished. This paper examines the issue of bridge provision from 1880, the year that the widened Carlisle Bridge was reopened as O’Connell Bridge. The main focus of attention will be the initial building of Butt Bridge, its subsequent rebuilding and the intractable problem of building a bridge to the east of Butt Bridge. A novel solution in the form of a transporter bridge was proposed, which would have added a distinctive element to the city’s streetscape but nothing was accomplished in the thirty years to 1960.

The city of Dublin during the period 1930-1950 has not been widely studied. Using a variety of sources, newspapers, civic minutes, Oireachtas debates, maps, photographs and graphics, this paper aims to shed light on one important aspect of civic governance and to show how the city might have been transformed had matters been handled in a different way.

Author Biographies

Frank Houghton, Eastern Washington University, Spokane

College of Health Science & Public Health

Sharon Houghton, University of Limerick

Department of Psychology

Lisa Scott, Limerick Institute of Technology

Department of Applied Social Sciences




How to Cite

Houghton, F., Houghton, S., & Scott, L. (2015). Caution – Census Data Being Used: exploring and understanding errors and falsification in the Irish census. Irish Geography, 47(2), 105–120.





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