A New Purpose

After last Wednesday’s sad spectacle of the decaying former hospital in Ballinasloe, County Galway, here is a more positive example of what can be done with such properties. The Richmond Surgical Hospital on North Brunswick Street, Dublin originally opened in 1811 in what had once been a 17th century convent. Eventually in 1895 a new building was begun on the site, designed by Dublin practice of Carroll & Batchelor in the then-fashionable English Renaissance idiom employing red brick and terracotta. The U-shaped hospital has a central block with two wings that thrust forward, each with two floors of balconies for convalescents to enjoy light and fresh air, and each topped with ogee-shaped copper domes. The Richmond continued to operate as a hospital until being closed in 1987 during one of the era’s rounds of health service rationalisation. Thereafter it served for a time as a courthouse but in 2013 was bought by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, which body last year opened the building as an education and event centre thereby demonstrating that an old hospital can find a new purpose.

One comment on “A New Purpose

  1. Hibernophile says:

    Victorian architecture was not just visually pleasing but also hugely practical. The balconies for patients to benefit from some fresh air demonstrates a high level of resourcefulness. Of course such a course of action would not be permitted today under restrictive health & safety considerations (two terms I most despise about 21st century life).

    Hibernophile recently had a brief sojourn in hospital and noted that none of the windows were able to be opened to allow a flurry of fresh air to cleanse the space. One is thankful that many dubious aspects of 19th century medicine has now been dispensed with, but surely something so fundamental as fresh air should still be accessible, albeit with the necessary health & safety considerations taken account of?

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