Our Lady’s Hospital, formerly Eglinton Asylum, Cork was built to house 500 patients. It was the largest of seven district lunatic asylums commissioned by the Board of Public Works in the late 1840s to supplement the nine establishments erected by Johnston and Murray in 1820-35. Like the earlier buildings, the new institutions were ‘corridor asylums’, but with the emphasis on wards rather than cells. There was a change in style from Classical to Gothic. Designed by local architect William Atkins, the Cork Asylum was one of the longest buildings in Ireland (almost 1000 feet), originally split into three blocks punctuated with towers and gables. Atkins made good use of polychromy, contrasting Glanmire sandstone with limestone dressings. The elevated site overlooking the River Lee at Shanakiel, appears to have been chosen by the local Governors for dramatic effect rather than practicality, great difficulty being encountered in providing exercise yards on the steep slope.
Named after Right Hon. Earl of Eglinton - Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the institution opened in 1852. The Asylum had three storeys. Construction cost including site £79,827..1/5d
A Distressing Account from 1988, Debated in the Irish Parliament, on the Decline of the Hospital.
The issue I have raised is the report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals on conditions in Our Lady's Hospital in Cork. I propose to devote a considerable period of my time to extracts from the report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals because, even though it is a very late hour and even though I, like everybody else, would like to go home, there are things in that report that need to be put on the record of this House and on the record of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The first thing that needs to be said is that there are about 1,000 patients in Our Lady's Hospital in Cork and almost all of them, with the exception of about 30 or 40, are long-stay patients. The Inspector of Mental Hospitals visited that hospital in February of this year. I want to put on the record of this House brief extracts about a variety of wards. For instance, in St. Kevin's 5, a female ward with 28 patients, there was one toilet off the dormitory and five toilets off the dayroom which were dirty. St. Kevin's 6, a male ward with 18 patients. Some renovation work was going on in this ward. The dormitory was locked off during the day. Each patient had a wardrobe. There was no soap and no towels were available. The toilet area off the dormitory was dirty and there were no curtains on the windows. We are not talking about prisons or shelters for the homeless; we are talking about a hospital. St. Kevin's 8, female with 21 patients — a washing machine on the ward was bought from patients' money, a washing machine to wash the clothes of the patients was bought from patients' money. The toilet had no seat and there were no curtains.