'We are the heroin capital of Europe': Marginal Communities, Health, Identity, and the Opioid Epidemic in Twentieth-Century Ireland


  • Dr Oisín Wall

    University College Dublin, Ireland

Project summary

When the government and media agree your community is the source of a deadly contagion threatening society, how does it affect your identity, your relationship with your neighbours, and your interactions with health services? During the heroin epidemic of the 1980s, these challenges were faced by many working-class communities in Dublin. In this project I will explore the history of opiates in Ireland from 1918 to the end of the first heroin epidemic (1990). I will interview community members and former heroin users to understand how media, governmental, and medical reports shaped their lives and identities, individually and as communities. By including community members from the outset, the project will enable some of the most marginalised communities in the country to shape their own history. The project will be the first history of illegal drug-use in Ireland and will shed new light on Irish cultural history and international drugs history.