St. Dympna's Hospital
|St. Dympna's Hospital|
|Building Style||Radial Plan|
A system of publicly funded asylums was established in Ireland subsequent to legislation passed in 1817. Carlow District Lunatic Asylum admitted its first patient on 7 May 1832 and initially served the counties of Carlow, Kildare, Wexford and Kilkenny, and the city of Kilkenny. The Asylum was built to accommodate 104 patients at a cost of £18,474.5.9. The site and grounds, comprising 10 acres, had been purchased for £2,218.104.22.168 The capital required for building asylums was issued by the Exchequer and repaid within 14 years through Grand Jury presentments. Day to day costs were funded entirely by the county cess until 1874 when a grant-in-aid of 4 shillings per patient per week was introduced.
By 1871, The Asylum could cater for 178 patients, and for 426 patients by 1896. In 1911, it was reported that the asylum had housed more than 500 patients for some years. Overcrowding exacerbated illness and there are references in the records of outbreaks of influenza, cholera and dysentery. Due to pressure of numbers, the asylum district was divided twice. Asylums to cater for Wexford and Kilkenny patients were opened in 1852 and 1868 respectively. In 1870, Kildare Grand Jury made an abortive attempt to have an asylum opened in the county. They were frustrated by the fact that local taxes supported the Asylum but they had difficulty having patients admitted. Originally asylums were to accommodate paupers only; there was no provision for paying patients who were accommodated in a small network of privately run asylums.
From the enactment of the Local Government Act, 1925, Carlow District Lunatic Asylum became known as Carlow District Mental Hospital. It became known by its current name, St Dympna’s, in 1958.