Going to Hospital

Located in the north-west corner of County Westmeath, this is Wilson’s Hospital, a secondary school which in 2011 celebrated its 250th anniversary. The school’s founder was one Andrew Wilson who, the year before his death in 1725, made a will stipulating that if there were no direct male heirs to his estate, then this should be transferred to the Church of Ireland for the establishment of a hospital for elderly Protestant men and a school for impoverished Protestant boys. After a few decades had passed and no male heir had appeared (and a family dispute over the will resolved), work began on the building, its design sometimes attributed to the little-known Dublin architect Henry Pentland. From the front Wilson’s Hospital looks like a Palladian country house, since to the rear of the main block (shown here) are quadrants leading to two-storey wings. And the façade features a two-storey-over-basement limestone breakfront, the three centre bays stepped forward and with fine Venetian windows on the extreme first-floor windows. The institutional nature of the place is indicated by the clock tower visible above the roofline, and, immediately behind the front, by an arcaded, three-storey courtyard that recalls that of the earlier Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, albeit on a smaller scale. Elderly Protestant men are no longer accommodated here, but boys (and for the past 50 years, also girls) continue to be educated at Wilson’s Hospital.

4 comments on “Going to Hospital

  1. jenjunebug says:

    Was this a private home first, and if so, do you know what it was called? Was Andrew Wilson related to the Wilsons of Daramona, do you think?

    • No, it was built for this specific purpose, not converted from a private house. I’m afraid that I don’t know whether Andrew Wilson was related to the Wilsons of Daramona, but my instinct is that if so, it was only very tangentially: the reason he founded the hospital was because he had no direct heirs…

  2. The front elevation looks very good a lot better than many country houses. The yard and the rainwater goods look like they good benefit from some attention.

  3. Jay says:

    My grandfather attended this school and I visited it once with my father when I was a boy. I have my grandfather’s old school tie.

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