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Inside Our Asylums.

In early 19th Century Ireland, mental illness appeared to be rife, or was it? Some reasons for being admitted to your local asylum were; 'Moral Causes, Physical Causes, Hereditary and Not Known'. Moral causes included 'poverty, reverse of fortune', 'grief, fear and anxiety', 'religious excitement', 'domestic quarrels', 'ill-treatment', 'pride', 'anger' and 'love, jealousy and seduction'. If these were some of the conditions to gain entry, that would explain why they were overcrowded.

There were also adverse treatments that the patients had to suffer, one was known as the "Circulating Chair", the patient was tied to the chair in a seated or lying position. The chair would then be rotated at a high speed, sometimes up to 60 times a minute.

For people living in the asylums the conditions were harrowing The cells had stone floors, with next to no heating or ventilation. With the asylums being so overcrowd patients (or inmates as they were known) were exposed to epidemics and dioceses. Corpses would lay for days without being removed. Patients were restrained with manacles locked on their ankles by a chain and these were attached to their beds, they were also subjected to daily bizarre experiments, some of these are thankfully now discredited to include lobotomies – which involved removing parts of the brain – and insulin coma therapy, where patients were repeatedly injected with insulin to induce a coma.

Some of these asylums were still in operation until 2013.

Corridors of cells.

Corridors of cells

Inside a cell.

Inside a small cell


Ward rounds.

Ward Rounds

Patient wheel chair lies in the flooded corridor.


Staff uniforms still hang from the last shift.

Nurses uniform

The laundry.

Industrial Washing Machines

Admission notes.

Admission notes

East Wing.

East Wing

Front admission.

Front Entrance

These asylums loom over the city, I can only image how frightening these were in the early 1800s. The red building on the right has recently suffered an arson attack with two thirds of the building now destroyed.

City Asylums

This huge asylum complex is almost one mile long making it the longest in Ireland and possibly even Europe!

From the rooftops

A tunnel connecting each asylum.

Patient questionnaire.


Part of this complex has been restored and turned into luxury apartments.



These are a selection of images from various asylums across Ireland.

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