St. Patrick's Hospital

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St. Patrick's Hospital
Established 1746
Opened 1747
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Architect(s) George Semple
Location Dublin, IRE
Alternate Names
  • St. Patrick's Hospital for Imbeciles


The foundation of St Patrick’s Hospital in 1746 was brought about by the will of Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, and it was he who specified its name. With the direction of architect George Semple, it was one of the first hospitals in the world to be planned and designed as a psychiatric hospital and was partly modeled on the famous Bethlem Hospital in London.

The Governors soon realized that Swift’s bequest was inadequate to fund the intended free admission of all patients and they decided to cater partly for fee-paying boarders. With that income and rent from a well-managed estate, the Governors were able to approve two extensions to the successful hospital: the first, providing for 106 patients, was completed in 1783; the second in 1793.

In 1898 a large house in Lucan called St Edmundsbury was bought for use as a convalescent hospital. The first patients were admitted there in March 1899.

Relocating the hospital was considered but it was deemed wiser to consolidate its existing properties. Land adjoining the hospital was purchased and in 1916 extensions to the original wings of the hospital was undertaken. A further extension was opened in 1936. In the intervening period, a central block for specialist treatments was constructed. By this time the hospital was catering for more than 160 patients.

St Patrick’s became a teaching hospital in 1947 with students attending ward rounds and lectures. The hospital entered into an agreement in 1966 to run an inpatient unit at St James’s Hospital and to provide outpatient care in the south of the city. In 1978 the Governors launched a major building programme intended to modernise the hospital but also to extend its capacity to provide day care facilities.

Today, as an independently governed, not-for-profit mental health facility, the hospital provides inpatient, day care and outpatient services through specialty mental health programmes and services.