Cork St Fever Hospital

Readers may be interested in keeping an eye on the Royal College of Physicians’ blog which plans to feature some posts on the Cork St Fever Hospital archive preservation and cataloguing over the next year. The first post in the series includes this engraving of the hospital, clearly a substantial building.

Cork St Fever Hospital (Click to go to RCPI blog)

Cork St Fever Hospital (Click to go to RCPI blog)

Eugene Dudley’s recent article in Dublin Historical Record is a good read on the hospital and the social conditions at the time of opening. Citing John Rutty’s Natural History of County Dublin, he writes that there were no sewers, the city had 19 graveyards with people buried in shallow graves, and the water supplies contained dead animals. No one was safe from the threat of fever. The hospital chaplain, Rev James Whitelaw,* himself died of fever in 1813. He had conducted a survey of the city, reporting that

the labouring poor and beggars [were] crowded together ‘to a degree distressing to humanity in truly wretched habitations with often 10 to 16 persons of all ages and sexes in a room not of fifteen feet square’. (Dudley, 2009)

Having opened the Sick Poor Institution on Meath St. in 1794, it was decided that while this dispensary was successful, there was a further need for a hospital in the area. In 1801, 15 Trustees were named at the Royal Exchange for the new hospital. These included Samuel Bewley, William and Thomas Disney, Arthur Guinness Jr, and John David La Touche. Money was raised with relative ease. Reporting to an inquiry in the middle of the nineteenth century, a La Touche descendant stated:

Dublin was at that time in a very different position from that in which it is at present. There were a great number of wealthy manufacturers who resided in the Liberties, and employed a great number of people; they were very charitably disposed. (Dudley, 2009)

Site of Cork St Fever Hospital from Rocque's map 1756.

Site of Cork St Fever Hospital from Rocque’s map 1756.

The site for the hospital was selected to be “Widow Donnelly’s Orchard”. It is unnamed, but clear on Rocque’s map that an orchard existed on the site of the hospital. The site is bound by Love Lane (now Donore Avenue) to the west and Brickfield Lane to the east. Construction began in 1802 and was complete by 1808. The hospital opened after the ward ranges were complete in May 1804. It clearly had immediate success: in 1805, 1028 patients were admitted from the hospital’s catchment area of south of the Liffey to the South Circular Road. 874 of these were “discharged and cured”, 97 died, and 57 were still in care at the end of the year.

Fever Hospital Site ca 1840 (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

Fever Hospital Site ca 1840 (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

The fever hospital is visible from the early OSi map (ca 1840); and its foot print remains relatively unchanged today, save for an additional building in the south west of the complex. It is easy to see the relationship of the buildings in this map to the etching shown at the top of the article.

Notes

E. Dudley (2009) A Silent Witness – Cork Street Fever Hospital, Dublin Historical Record, 62(1), 103-126.

*An interesting article on Rev James Whitelaw and his Survey of the City is available on the Come Here to Me blog.

 

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The Kevin Street Medley: 1. St Sepulchre’s Palace

If there is another street in Dublin that doffs its cap to as much history in five hundred paces as Kevin St does, I’d like to walk it. I can’t quite say why, but I think it is a peculiar street. Perhaps it is the awkward meeting of its Upper and Lower sections; once linked by the street Cross Kevin St., but now joined together by a serpentine junction. Or perhaps it is the lack of much street-level function; there is but a few number of shops on the street. Instead it is punctuated with large buildings which make it a street to go to, rather than to be on. But Kevin St is one of Dublin’s oldest streets, and deserves our attention. It is recorded on Speed’s 1610 map and its name—derived from the ancient church of the eponymous saint now accessed off Camden Row—hasn’t changed over those four centuries. That’s quite a feat.

St Sepulchre's Palace (click to go to NLI FLickr)

St Sepulchre’s Palace, 1771 (click to go to NLI FLickr)

Even if the name hasn’t changed, Gabriel Beranger’s gorgeous drawing of St Sepulchre’s Palace from around 1770, now the site of Kevin St Garda station shows how much the street has changed over the last two centuries. The palace is also marked on Speed’s map, although it was much older than 1610. It dates from the twelfth century, after the Synod of Kells increased the number of Archbishops in Ireland from two to four: Tuam and Dublin getting the loot. Bishop Gregory of Dublin subsequently became Archbishop Gregory, and the palace was built sometime over the next century. The church’s 74,000 acres of lands in county Dublin included the Manor of St Sepulchre, which consisted of the parishes now known as Crumlin, Donnybrook, SS Catherine. Nicholas and Peter, and Taney. The poor archbishop was bounced in and out of the palace over the centuries. Edward VI, Henry VIII’s son, dissolved St Patrick’s Cathedral and moved the Lord Lieutenant (“the Deputy of our Realm”) into the palace, with the Archbishop moving to the Deanery.

Dublin Mounted Police outside barracks at Kevin St

Dublin Mounted Police outside barracks at Kevin St

Edward’s sister Mary moved the bishop back in, but then the Earl of Sussex (Elizabeth’s Lord Deputy) moved him back out again, but this, again, appears to be short lived, for in Archbishop Adam Loftus’ time there at the end of the sixteenth century, it was described as “a semi-regal abode well pleasantlie sited as gorgeously builded“. St Sepulchre’s Library, originally part of the complex, obviously still exists— it is now known as Marsh’s Library.

After 41 Archbishops, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1806 transferring ownership to the Crown, and the palace became a barracks for the Mounted Police. The Archbishop moved to St Stephen’s Green (No. 16), probably as these quarters were more salubrious than what Kevin St had become. John Carr, writing in 1806 stated that:

“The palace of the Archbishop of Dublin is converted into Barracks and is situated in a close neighbourhood with a collection of more mud, rags and wretchedness than London can exhibit in its most miserable quarters”

kevinstmy4

What might have been… Probably just as well. (Links to Archiseek)

While the palace technically still exists, there isn’t much in Kevin St to relate back to the original structure, some interior detail aside. The unusually large gate-posts into the Barracks have been dated to about 1720.

The entire site is now a bit of a mess. During the boom, plans were well advanced for a new Garda station at the intersection of Kevin St Upper and Lower. Those plans came to a halt very abruptly, and all that remains of that is a large hole in the ground. Even the sign proclaiming the building that was meant to be has disappeared.

Kevin St Garda Station

Site for new Kevin St Garda Station, as seen from DIT Kevin St

The OSi 25″ map from the late nineteenth century shows both the size of the original complex, and I think, how much more lively the street was at that time—the number of houses both on Kevin St Upper and Bride St (now site of Large Hole) is substantial – a glimpse of those houses on Bride St is available at the photo on this Come Here to Me! article.

Kevin Street in the late 19th century (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

Kevin Street in the late 19th century, showing Guinness Street (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

The lane running between the barracks and the Deanery to the west was originally called Patrick’s Close, although the connection between the two ends looks like it would only fit a pedestrian in the earlier OSi map from ca. 1840. It has regained the name Patrick’s Close, but it is clear on the map shown that it was for some time known as Guinness Street. This is likely due to the substantial amount of money provided by Edward Cecil Guinness for the restoration of St Patrick’s in the nineteenth century. It’s hard to avoid his name when reviewing the Cathedral’s excellent history timeline on their website.

View of Marsh's Library from Cathedral Lane (Links to the National Gallery of Ireland)

View of Marsh’s Library from Cathedral Lane (Links to the National Gallery of Ireland)

Just opposite the entrance to Guinness Street, we can get a glimpse of what the house on the corner looked like from Flora H Mitchell’s pretty watercolour “Marsh’s Library from Cathedral Lane.” It shows a three storey building with a shop on the ground floor. This is number 15, which in 1911 was home to Michael Doyle, a “coal factor”, and his family. Back on the mid-nineteenth century, it was home to George Close and Sons, Saddlers and Harness Makers; perhaps more fitting given that the Mounted Police were in the Barracks across the road.

More to come on Kevin St!

 

Notes

Victor Jackson (1975) The Palace of St. Sepulchre, Dublin Historical Record, 28(3), 82-92.

Charlotte Street now gone

Modern Ordnance Survey of Ireland Map of the Camden Complex, showing the approximate route of Charlotte (red) and Old Camden (blue) Streets

Modern Ordnance Survey of Ireland Map of the Camden Complex, showing the approximate route of Charlotte (red) and Old Camden (blue) Streets. The Bleeding Horse was pinched between the two streets at the northern (top) end

The strange convergence of roads at the junction of Charlemont, South Richmond,  Harrington and Camden streets with the east-west thoroughfare of Harcourt Road is a recent addition to the city. Especially odd is the abrupt termination of Charlemont—one of the main routes in to the city and the arc-like segment of road that runs alongside South Richmond street, which was formerly a half of Old Camden Street and is now seemingly nameless.

It wasn’t always so. Describing the approach routes possible for the Battle of Rathmines in 1649, the road south from Camden Street along Charlemont Street was the marked as the “road to Milltown” (Brunskill, 1939). This road followed what became known in 1780 as Charlotte Street, which connected directly Camden and Charlemont Streets and can be seen clearly on maps drawn since (Behan, 1994).

1798 Map of Dublin

1798 Map of Dublin (Click on image for view of surrounding area)

The street’s name was in honour of Queen Charlotte (1744 – 1818), wife of George III (the “mad” one), and mother of his fifteen children. At this time, the area was on the edge of the city, but as can be seen from the 1798 map, there was significant development along the route. 

I was first aware of the non-existence of Charlotte Street on the National Library’s Flickr Stream, who posted the photo “Demolition” by Elinor Wiltshire, which shows the street in 1964. The shop visible in the photograph is of the Kavanagh Sisters Hair Stylists. The Kavanagh family are also present in 1911 Census, with James, a hair-dresser, who looks like he was father of the sisters of 1964, named Ellen and Martha. They would have been 56 and 54 at the time this photo was taken. Next door in 1911 was Willie Kavanagh, who in 1901 was a “Hair-Dresser Improver”.

Looking from Charlemont Street through the intersection of Harcourt Road, onto Charlotte Street, 1910

Looking from Charlemont Street through the intersection of Harcourt Road, onto Charlotte Street, 1910

Just as we risk sinking into the mundane, out pops a really interesting nugget: Charlotte Street was home to the offices of Jacob Neville, land surveyor, who operated there between 1773-1782 and succeeded by Arthur Richard Neville in 1789 (Gibney, 1958). Now for non-Wicklow people, this mightn’t seem too fascinating, but Neville was the first man to do a full survey of Wicklow, publishing his famous map in 1760. His nephew Arthur published an updated version of the map sometime after 1798. Jacob’s contemporaries included Bernard Scalé, who we met at Ely Place and Thomas Mathews who we met at Golden Lane

Charlotte Street, 1974, from Dublin City Library Collection (links to catalogue)

Charlotte Street, 1972, from Dublin City Library Collection (links to catalogue)

Despite the association with Neville, Charlotte Street never amounted to much more than housing small businesses. By the mid-twentieth century, as is evident from the National Library’s Wiltshire photograph, the street had run into terminal decline. A photo taken from a similar perspective in the 1970s from the Dublin City Library Collection shows that not much had improved, and by the 1980s, plans were afoot to develop an office complex. The road was closed by ministerial order on 28th July, 1992, and Charlotte Street officially no longer existed (Behan, 1994). A nod to the history of the place was the naming of a new road around the office complex “Charlotte Way”. The demolition attracted media attention as it involved demolishing Stein’s Opticians, as recounted in this “Come Here to Me” blog post (and update).

Despite officially not existing, a sign for Charlotte Street still exists. Approaching from Charlemont St, there is a small recess in the building, where someone with sympathies to the road that once was has placed a sign up marking the old route.

Plaque at junction of Camden Street and formerly Charlotte Street

Plaque at junction of Camden Street and formerly Charlotte Street

And a plaque? Well the closest we can get to a plaque on a street that doesn’t exist is just in time for the centenary of the Lockout. At the point where Charlotte Street met Camden Street, a plaque marks the building that was between 1912 and 1916 the headquarters of the International Tailors, Pressers and Machinists Union, established by Jewish Workers (having previously housed a synagogue).

Sign for Charlotte Street

Sign for Charlotte Street, an officially non-existant street that goes nowhere

Notes

  • A. P. Behan, 1994, Up Harcourt Street from the Green, Dublin Historical Record, 47(1), 24 – 45.
  • Frank Gibney 1958, A Civic Achievement, Dublin 1760-1800, Dublin Historical Record, 15(1), 1 – 10.