Dublin City Medical Care in the 1830s

1837
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Excerpt from Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland for the metropolis of Dublin (pub. 1837). For more snapshots of pre-famine local history for Dublin city parishes, see below.

INFIRMARIES FOR MEDICAL AND SURGICAL CASES.

Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, in Canal-street, was founded for the relief of the sick, maimed, or wounded, and as an appendage to the School of Physic for extending the sphere of medical practice, by a fund arising from the produce of estates bequeathed by the founder to the College of Physicians.

  • The institution is under the direction of a board of governors. The medical department consists of two physicians in ordinary, One extraordinary, a surgeon, and an apothecary; and the house department, of a treasurer, registrar, providore, and matron.
  • Lectures are delivered twice every week, during the medical season, by the professors of the school of physic in rotation in the theatre, and clinical lectures are also given at the bedside of the patient. The building, which is capable of receiving 100 patients, was commenced in 1803, and completed at an expense of #40,000, of which sum, #9000 was granted by parliament, and the remainder was defrayed from the proceeds of the estates, and by subscription. The building consists of a centre and two projecting wings : the ground floor of the centre contains apartments for the matron and apothecary, the pupils' waiting-room, and the theatre ; and in the upper story are the board-room of the College of Physicians, the library, and the museum ; the wings contain the wards for the patients. Patients who are not objects of charity are admitted on paying £1.10. per month during their continuance in the hospital ; the average annual income is upwards of £3000.

Steevens' Hospital, near Kilmainham, was founded by a bequest of Dr. Steevens, who, in 1710, bequeathed his estate, amounting to £600 per annum for that purpose ; the hospital was opened in 1733. The building forms a quadrangle, having a piazza round the interior of the lower story, and a covered gallery round that above it; attached to it is a small chapel: the board-room contains a medical library. The resident officers are a surgeon, apothecary, Protestant chaplain, steward, and matron. The funds, aided by grants of public money, support 220 beds; this is the largest infirmary in Dublin.

Meath Hospital, originally in Meath-street, was removed to the Coombe, and ultimately to its present site in Long-lane, Kevin-street; it is now the infirmary for the county. It contains a detached ward for fever cases, a fine theatre for operations, and a spacious lecture-room. Mercer's Hospital, founded in 1734 by Mrs. Mary Mercer, is a large stone building, situated between Mercer-street and Stephen-street, containing 55 beds. A theatre for operations was added to it in 1831.

The Charitable Infirmary, Jervis-street, was the first institution of the kind in the city: the building, a plain brick structure, erected in 1800, can accommodate 60 patients.

Whitworth Hospital was erected in 1818, on the bank of the Royal Canal, near Drumcondra; it has a ward appropriated for a class of patients who can contribute towards their own maintenance in it. The City of Dublin Hospital, in Upper Baggot-street, has accommodations for 52 patients : it is also the principal institution for diseases of the eye.

The United Hospital of St. Mark's and St. Anne's was opened in Mark-street in 1808, and contains 10 beds; an establishment for vaccination is attached to it.

The Maison de Sante, George's-place, Dorset-street, is intended for those who, though unable to defray the expense of medical advice at home, are in circumstances to prevent them from seeking admission into a public hospital ; the subscription paid by a patient is a guinea per week.

The Netterville and the Royal Military Hospitals are noticed under preceding heads.

LUNATICS

The Richmond District Lunatic Asylum, which was erected in 1830 into a district asylum for the county and city of Dublin, the counties of Meath, Wicklow, and Louth, and the town of Drogheda, occupies a rectangular area of 420 feet by 372, on the western side of the House of Industry.

  • The building forms a hollow square of three stories : the inmates are arranged in four classes of each sex, each under the charge of a keeper, whose apartment commands a view of the gallery in which the patients are confined : there are separate airing-grounds for every class.
  • The total number of patients on the 1st of Jan., 1836, was 277, of whom 130 were males and 147 females ; the expenditure for the same year was £4180. 16.

In the House of Industry there is a department for incurable lunatics, idiots, and epileptic patients, in which those capable of any exertion are employed suitably to their unhappy circumstances.

St. Patrick's or Swift's Hospital, for the reception of lunatics and idiots, was founded by the celebrated Dean Swift, who bequeathed his property, amounting to £10,000, for this purpose. The building, situated near Steevens's Hospital, was opened in 1757, and has also apartments, rated at different prices, for those whose friends can contribute either wholly or partially to their maintenance. A large garden is attached to it, in which some of the patients are employed with considerable advantage to their intellectual improvement.

The Society of Friends maintain a small asylum near Donnybrook, for lunatics of their own body.

THE LYING-IN HOSPITAL AND OTHER BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS

The Lying-in Hospital, in Great Britain-street, was originally a small private infirmary, opened in 1745 by Dr. Bartholomew Mosse; but the benefit resulting from it having attracted other contributors, the first stone of the present building was laid in 1750: the doctor, after expending the whole of his property in forwarding the institution, obtained from parliament two successive grants of £6000 each. In 1756 the governors were incorporated by charter, the preamble of which states the threefold object of the institution to be the providing for

"destitute females in their confinement, the providing a supply of well-qualified male and female practitioners throughout the country, and the prevention of child murder;"

and in the following year the hospital was opened for the admission of patients. The institution is under the direction of a board of 60 governors. The details of management are superintended by a master, always a resident and a medical practitioner, elected for seven years, and deriving his emolument from the number of his pupils, among whom eight females educated for the practice of midwifery are paid for by Government; he delivers four courses of lectures annually, and at the end of six months the students are examined before the assistants, who are appointed for three years, and if duly qualified receive a certificate. The income for the year ending March 31st, 1836, was £4770, arising mainly from the exertions of its managers. The number of cases annually admitted is about 2500.

The building consists of a centre and two projecting pavilions connected with it by curved colonnades ; the whole of the facade extends 125 feet in length; the principal entrance leads into a spacious hall, and a broad flight of steps leads from the hall to the chapel. The western pavilion forms an entrance to the porter's lodge, and the eastern to the rotundo; in the rear is a spacious lawn enclosed by an iron palisade, forming the interior of Rutland-square. The rotundo comprises a suite of spacious and elegant rooms appropriated to purposes of amusement; the entrance from Sackville-street leads into a waiting-room for servants, and communicates with a vestibule adjoining the great room, which is a circle of 80 feet diameter; the orchestra is of elegant design. On the east and west are respectively a spacious tea-room and card-room; and on the north is a vestibule leading to the ball-room, which is 86 feet long and 40 feet wide. Above this room is another of equal dimensions, though less ornamented ; and on the same floor are two smaller apartments, which are let for exhibitions. The new rooms, built in 1786 and facing Cavendish-row, are fronted with a rusticated basement, from which rise four three-quarter columns of the Doric order, supporting a triangular pediment, in the tympanum of which are the arms of Ireland, the crest of the Duke of Rutland, and the star of the Order of St. Patrick ; these rooms are elegantly fitted up and well adapted to the same uses : all the profits arising from them are appropriated to the support of the hospital.

The other institutions of a similar description are in Townsend-street; in Bishop-street, called the Anglesey Hospital; on the Coombe, in the building which was the Meath Hospital; in South Cumberland-street ; and on Ellis's-quay, called the Western Lying-in Hospital. An institution is attached to Mercer's hospital, for the relief of lying-in women at their own dwellings.

The infirmaries for special complaints not already noticed are

  • the Fever Hospital and House of Recovery, Cork-street, which was opened in 1804. It consists of two parallel brick buildings, 80 feet by 30, three stories high, connected by a colonnade of 116 feet. The eastern range is used for fever, the western for convalescent patients; an additional building, much larger than any of the former, was added in 1814, by which the hospital was rendered capable of containing 240 beds. The expenditure is chiefly defrayed by a parliamentary grant ; the subscriptions and funded property amount to about £1000 per annum. From the opening of the establishment to the end of March, 1835, the number of patients amounted to 104,759. The Hardwicke Fever Hospital, attached to the House of Industry, contains 144 beds.
  • The Westmorland Lock Hospital was opened in 1792, for the reception of venereal patients of both sexes, and was originally designed for the reception of 300 inmates ; but afterwards the number of beds was reduced to 150, to which females only are admissible. The building, situated in Townsend-street, consists of a centre, in which are the officers' apartments, and two wings, with additional buildings for the reception of patients ; the centre and wings project a little, and the former has a plain pediment.
  • Vaccine Institution was opened in 1804, in Sackville-street, for the gratuitous vaccination of the poor, and for supplying all parts of the country with a genuine matter of infection.
  • There is an infirmary for ophthalmic affections in North Cumberland-street, and another in Cuffe-street, one for cutaneous diseases in Moore-street, one for the diseases of children in Pitt-street, and another in North Frederic-street.

MEDICINE

Dispensaries are numerous and generally attached to hospitals and infirmaries. Among those unattached are

  • that in Cole's-lane, for St. Mary's parish, where the poor are also in special cases attended at their own lodgings;
  • the Dublin General Dispensary, Fleet-street ;
  • St. Thomas's Dispensary, Marlborough-green ;
  • St. Peter's Parochial Dispensary, Montague-street ;
  • South Eastern General Dispensary, Grand Canal-street, near Sir P. Dun's Hospital, to which is attached a Nourishment and Clothing society;
  • the Sick Poor Institution, in a great measure similar, in Meath-street; St. George's Dispensary, Dorset-street; and the Charitable Institution, Kildare-street.

 

SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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