The Coombe Hospital Portico

The Portico of the Coombe Hospital, built 1877

The Portico of the Coombe Hospital, built 1877

The Coombe Hospital, now on the upper reaches of Cork St began life in The Coombe itself. After the Meath Hospital moved from the site to Naboth’s vineyard on Long Lane in 1822, the hospital was bought by John Kirby, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who ran it as a general hospital. According to a contemporary report, the location was apt:

This charitable institution stands in that part of the city where poverty and disease prevail in their most calamitous degree of aggravation; and where accidents, in their severest forms, constantly occur, and hourly demand admission into some asylum where suffering may be alleviated and life preserved. [Wright, 1825]

A plaque on the portico tells us what happened next:

Towards the end of the year 1825, two women whilst making a vain attempt to reach the Rotunda Hospital perished together with their new born babies in the snow. When this became known a number of benevolent and well-disposed persons founded “The Coombe Lying-in Hospital” in the year 1826 for the relief of poor lying-in women.  Leading the Charitable Committee was a Mrs Margaret Boyle of Upper Baggot St, Dublin.

Coombe map

Coombe Hospital, OSi

Kirby was replaced as Master in 1836 by Hugh Carmichael, and the name of the hospital changed to the ‘Coombe Lying-in Hospital and Dublin Ophthalmic Dispensary’ — Carmichael had an interest in ophthalmology. In 1838, it was reported that the hospital had 42 beds and “daily affords advice and medicine to about one hundred and fifty extern patients.” The original building deteriorated and in in 1867, the patients were transferred to another hospital on Peter St run by Kirby. Benjamin Guinness and others provided funds for a new hospital which opened in 1877. A dispensary is visible along Brabazon St on the later nineteenth century map of the area, labelled “Guinness Dispy”.

A century after the original building closed, this new hospital also closed, and the new Coombe Hospital opened on Cork St. The portico is all that remains.

The plaque continues:

The portico surrounding this plaque formed the entrance until the year 1967 when the hospital moved to a new location in Dolphin’s Barn. It has been retained and restored by Dublin Corporation as a memorial to the many thousands of mothers who gave birth to future citizens of Ireland in the Coombe Lying-in hospital and also to the generosity of the staff and friends of the hospital.

The housing scheme which was subsequently erected on the site by Dublin Corporation was officially opened by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Alderman Fergus O’Brien T. D. , on 20th November 1980.

Notes

  • David Mitchell (1989) A Medical Corner of Dublin (1711 to 1889), Dublin Historical Record, 42(8), 86-93.
  • L. B. Somerville-Large (1964) Dublin’s Eye Hospitals in the 19th Century, Dublin Historical Record, 20(1), 19-28.
  • You can see a photograph of the original building at Archiseek.
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A Long Lane

Long Lane was longer

Long Lane was longer

While it doesn’t make (as) much sense now, Long Lane was a very appropriate name for the street that ran from New Street/Clanbrassil St to Wexford St. Its length was originally 500 metres, but this was bisected by Bride St/Heytsbury St when that street was laid out in 1846.

Long Lane exists on Rocque’s map of 1760 and the plan of the city in 1797. This area was the Earl of Meath’s Liberty, and the most significant building on the street was the Meath Hospital. This was built on the south side of Long Lane in 1821, moving from its earlier location in The Coombe (the portico of the original building still stands in The Coombe). The hospital was built on what Rocque’s map calls “Naboth’s Vineyards”, which had been bought by Dean Swift in 1722 (it was also called Dean’s Vineyards). Writing in 2008, Walsh states that the wall between the hospital and Long Lane includes sections built by Dean Swift.

meath hospital

The site was purchased from him after a donation of £6000 from Thomas Pleasants, whose money went to build the new hospital. He did not live to see the hospital opened. Money had been sought from the Duke of Leinster and Lord Powerscourt, but in the end Pleasants was the main benefactor. He was rewarded with a street in his own name nearby.

The northern side of Long Lane had on the early maps a Cabbage Garden marked on an area of about two acres. This included the site of the current DIT building on Kevin St., and my own office. Strangely, the recording of brassicas at this site continued onto the early Ordnance Survey map, which seems rather quaint. After its bisection by Bride St., the eastern end of Long Lane initially retained its original name. Buildings here included St Sepulchre’s Marshalsea, now the site of a modern apartment complex, and of course St Kevin’s Church, now a ruin. However, by the end of the century, the eastern end of the lane had been renamed Camden Row. The cabbage gardens were also gone by this stage; replaced by saw mills. The Earl of Meath’s legacy is still visible in a row of houses on the remaining section of Long Lane known as Meathville Terrace.

Notes:

  • Peter Gatenby (2005) The Meath Hospital, Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 58(2), 122-128.
  • David Mitchell (1989) A Medical Corner of Dublin (1711 to 1889), Dublin Historical Record, 42(8), 86-93.
  • Dave Walsh, The Ghosts of Archbishop Marsh, Swift and Stella, Dublin Historical Record, 61(2), 194-196.