History


In the worst hour of the worst season

of the worst year of a whole people

a men set out from the workhouse with his wife …

An overview of maternity matters in Ireland since 1916 by Rhona O’Mahony: The Annual Hospital Reports of the 1920s have striking similarities to my own, chronicling increasing activity and inadequate resources. Unexpected money from the infamous Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstakes allowed for the refurbishment of a number of hospitals during the 1930s, including the NMH, but despite some recent refurbishment, the building is little changed from what it was in the 1930s.

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Medical professionals and local communities protecting their economic interests played a major role in the incarceration of tens of thousands of people in asylums, according to a study into what’s depicted as the forgotten scandal of Ireland’s institutional past. Its author, Dr Damien Brennan, said there were strong parallels between the operation of Ireland’s mental hospitals and the Magdalene laundries but the former “can’t be blamed on the church; it was a State-run project. We did it as communities, as societies”. In his book Irish Insanity: 1800-2000, the culmination of 10 years of research launched in Dublin last night, he seeks to explain why Ireland in the 1950s had the world’s highest rate of mental hospital residency. (Times) >

Donal Hickey in Examiner >

For the first time in 160 years, an imposing building which dominates Killarney, Co Kerry, and which once had more than 1,000 residents, was unoccupied last night.

The final group of seven patients yesterday left one of the country’s oldest psychiatric institutions, St Finan’s Hospital, amid hopes that traditional ways of dealing with, and attitudes towards, mental illness are also very much in the past.

The huge Victorian-era building on 30 acres overlooks Fitzgerald Stadium and has commanding views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.

Its closure has been planned for many years and conditions have been strongly criticised by the Inspector of Mental Hospitals and the Mental Health Commission. (Examiner >)

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The Worth Library in Dr Steevens’ Hospital is a treasure trove of medical texts stretching back to the 15th century

EVER WONDERED if there was an antidote if you came down with a bad case of bubonic plague? Or how TB and venereal disease were treated before antibiotics and streptomycin came along?
The answers lie in a perfectly preserved 300-year-old library hidden away in the unlikely location of the HSE headquarters in Dr Steevens’ Hospital in Dublin.

Stepping into the Worth Library, with its original oak-stained, glass-fronted bookcases and a portrait of its owner, Edward Worth, peering down magisterially on the specially designed east-facing room, is not just to step back in time, but to inhabit the mind of a passionate 17th-century bibliophile.

Edward Worth (1678-1733) was a Dublin physician and avid book collector. By the time of his death he had amassed a library of 4,500 volumes covering a wide array of topics – medical and science texts, predominantly, but also a selection of the classics, as well as tomes on theology, history and astronomy. (Irish Times) >>>