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Photographer's Note

Pictured here is Our Lady’s Hospital, formerly Eglinton Asylum, Cork, overlooking the River Lee in Cork City.

Originally built to house 500 patients, this was the largest of seven lunatic asylums commissioned in the late 1840s by the Board of Public Works. Like the older buildings before it, Eglinton Asylum was a "corridor" asylum, but put more emphasis on wards for the patients, rather than cells.

It was also unique as it was one of the first asylums to take on Neo Gothic design over the previously popular classical designs which were more common. It is constructed from Glanmire sandstone with the dressings being made from limestone.


It was designed by local architect William Atkins, and when built was one of the longest buildings in Ireland at just over one thousand feet long. The elevated site overlooking the River Lee at Shanakiel appears to have been chosen by the local Governors for drama rather than practical purposes, with great difficulty being encountered in providing exercise yards for patients on the steep slope that runs down to the river.

The asylum was named after Right Hon. Earl of Eglinton - Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was opened in 1852 and cost just short of £80,000 to complete.

In 1988, there was a distressing report published in the Irish Parliament, outlining a litany of disgraces at the site. There were over 1000 patients in a place designed for 500, toilets were filthy with some being shared by up to 30 patients, and on some occasions, patients were required to use their own money to purchase required equipment such as washing machines.

Despite its rather dark history, it is a beautiful building, and its position over the river gives it great impact. Plans were afoot during better years in Ireland to convert the building into luxury apartments, but to date this has not happened and it remains an empty wreck. Even it the word luxury were used to describe a conversation, I still don't think I would be keen to live in a place like this.

It reminds me a lot of the asylum from the movie "Session 9" for any horror fans that might have seen it.


What we can see here is about two thirds of the total length of the building, and the tower on the left of the shot is actually the very center of the building. Bad light caused me to consider cutting the picture into this square format.

Thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2583 W: 12 N: 6169] (21568)
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