St Senans Hospital

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St Senans Hospital
Opened 1868
Closed 2014
Current Status Closed
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Location Enniscorthy, IRE
Alternate Names
  • Enniscorthy District Lunatic Asylum for the Insane and Poor of Mind
  • Wexford County Lunatic Asylum


Opened in 1868, 'Enniscorthy District Lunatic Asylum for the Insane and Poor of Mind' has been a prominent feature for residents of the town of Enniscorthy, and indeed those travelling on the N11 road for a century and a half.

Designed by county surveyor Barry Farrell and his colleague James Bell from the Board of Works, the hospital was intended to house 280 residents but soon after opening, found itself full. The building was expanded until there was room for almost 600 residents here. At its peak, in 1915, there were 573 residents, the population swollen by those traumatized by what they had seen in the trenches in the Great War.

It was surrounded by spike topped walls, and this in conjunction with its apparent military style design including 4 towers (one of which is pictured) encouraged local children and adults alike to look with suspicion and fear at what became known as "The Mental" or "The Redbrick". Behind the boundary defences that would have done justice to a high-security prison, there certainly were the much feared padded cells and strait jackets, as well as an intricate system of locks and keys from which there could be no escape without approval.

However, the self-contained world within was reassuringly complete to many of those who were admitted to quell their inner demons. The institution had its own church, its own farm, its own graveyard, its own power station, its own tailors, bakers and cobblers.

In 2010, a report was issued on the plight of patients forced to live in dilapidated, depressing Victorian psychiatric facilities which were not fit for human habitation. St Senans was singled out for particular note, as it was found that patients were surrounded by peeling paint or placed in seclusion, sometimes for months, in rooms which were grim and dark.

Recent changes to the care of people with mental afflictions has resulted in this asylum being all but closed now. Down from its peak of nearly 600 residents, today there is less than 20 remaining, as many patients now live in the wider community, with family, or with care in state provided houses and flats. As the residents find new, modern accomodation one by one, the countdown is on to the complete closure of this relic of Victorian era medical treatment.