The Dublin Penny Journal, The Irish Penny Magazine and similar Dublin publications from the 1830s and 1840s were all interesting journals in their way but tended to suffer from a surfeit of earnestness. They were preoccupied with spreading knowledge, which they claimed would be of great benefit to the poor. The objective was to improve the masses by turning them into enthusiasts for information. All claimed to be non-political, but that claim is questionable, unless one believes that a plan to transform the culture of the poor by rendering them into single-minded rationalists is non-political.
As one might expect, not all from the lower orders felt their lives should be spent discussing such edifying matters as the geology of Dublin and its suburbs. When we turn to Paddy Kelly’s Budget we encounter the more credible, if less high-minded, concerns of the population, that is to say gossip and relations between the sexes.
The Budget, which was popular, humorous and irreverent in style, was quite unconcerned with the larger political questions of the day, unless its opposition to the temperance movement can be classed as a political position. In addition to a range of comic material it printed various bits of gossip and information it picked up and which give some flavour of its interests:
Cupid wishes to know is it to Fleming the butter man of Moore Street that Miss Mary Lawlor of Henry St is to be married on St Valentine’s Day?
What is it to us if Doyle of Stoneybatter puts up every night the shutters of his mother’s public house? An account of his nightly adventures with Miss Devine in our next.
Miss Farrell of Sackville Street, would wish to know if Mr McGill of the same street will meet her punctually at Mrs Duffy’s Phibsborough on Sunday next, as she has something to communicate to him concerning their future etceteras
Mick Tancred requests that Richard Gratton of Mary’s Lane will remain at home and cease annoying the widow O’Gara.
It was really too bad in Old Squally Murphy of Watling St to turn out the poor missus and beat up the children.
Your cursing and swearing old Squally I’m told
puts the neighbours in mind of Hell’s Monarch the old
chap that’s waiting upon you below.
So repent you old Cove or you surely must go.