Connacht District Lunatic Asylum, which later became known as St Brigids Hospital, was one of the first Irish District Asylums to be completed and opened its doors in 1833. Originally created to cater for the ‘curable lunatics’ cases, the hospital struggled with securing funding and in rejecting patients which were not suitable for the intended purpose of the Asylum. By 1900 the Lunatic Asylum held 1165 Patients which greatly exceeded the official capacity of 840. The high number of patients in the Asylum was partly due to the passing of the Dangerous Lunatics Act in 1838 which applied only in Ireland and allowed for any person to make accusations of insane behaviour against another. This would, in turn, lead to arrest and examination of the accused by a medical officer who would commit the patient if it was felt that they posed a danger to wider society. Another problem with the Act was that no physician or asylum manager was able to overrule or refuse a patient once they had been committed by such a method, so if a person was later deemed to be sane, they were still forced to admit the individual to the institution.
I couldn’t find much information from the mid to late 1900’s or exact details as to when the Asylum closed. When we visited in April 2017, the Asylum was relatively free from vandalism and was suffering only from natural deterioration and weather damage, quite possibly one of the finest examples of an Asylum that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. I’ve had to split this post into two parts on account of the number of photos that I took, enjoy the ones below and keep an eye out for part two coming shortly:
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