Connacht District Lunatic Asylum / St Brigid’s Psychiatric Hospital, Ballinasloe, Ireland

Connacht District Lunatic Asylum / St Brigid's Psychiatric Hospital, Ballinasloe, Ireland

An abandoned asylum in Ireland with many items remaining, plenty of decay and a lot of history.

Visited January 2017 Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland Abandoned, Derelict

The Connacht District Lunatic Asylum opened in 1833 with accommodation for 150 patients. Many commentators at the time thought the asylum would never reach capacity, and in fact feared it wouldn’t ever be even half full. Promotional advertisements were created ready to entice patients to the new asylum. These turned out to be redundant, however, and the asylum actually suffered with overcrowding throughout the years, despite being expanded many times. Poor Law Workhouses at the time were overcrowded, as was the prison system in Ireland, and both were relieved to be able to offload some of their more difficult inmates to the asylums. Connacht, like the other asylums at the time, was unable by law to refuse entry to anyone referred to them, and soon found they were filling up with long-term or incurable patients. Around the same time, emigration to America seemed a good option for many Irish people, however anyone exhibiting strange behaviour would likely mean refusal of entry into the USA for the entire family. Those family members were simply sent to the asylums where they would likely spend the rest of their lives while their families emigrated.

Designed by William Murray, based on an earlier design by Francis Johnston, Connacht was built with an X shape layout and cost £27,000. The plan was based on the “panoptic” concept for prison layouts whereby the governor and his staff would occupy the central structure, easily able to monitor the entire institution with the wings radiating outwards.

St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - The building through front gates
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – The building through front gates

In 1850 the Sligo Asylum was built to cater for the counties of Sligo and Leitrim, and Connacht was renamed Ballinasloe District Asylum, to serve the counties of Galway and Roscommon only. The asylum gained a reputation over the years as a place of cruelty and deprivation. Harsh treatment, imprisonment and the threat of a future spent in a straightjacket or padded cell was common. The popular perception of the hospital for the mentally ill was not a favourable one even in the 1970s.

In its later years, the building became St Brigid’s Psychiatric Hospital. The change in name represented a modernised approach towards the treatment of people with mental illnesses. Long stays in institutional settings was gradually phased out and community based approaches were developed. This ultimately led to the eventual closure of St Brigid’s, a building that was designed to keep people restrained was no longer suitable in a time when rehabilitation and reintegration with the community was becoming priority. The hospital closed its doors for the final time in 2013.

St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Central section of the X shaped layout
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Central section of the X shaped layout
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - One of the corridors with curved ceilings
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – One of the corridors with curved ceilings
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Curved ceiling corridor
St. Brigids Hospital – Curved ceiling corridor
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Ward dorridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Ward dorridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Nurses station and cell doors
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Nurses station and cell doors
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Room with bed and wheelchair
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Room with bed and wheelchair
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Decaying corridor with bed
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Decaying corridor with bed
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Lots of items left in a corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Lots of items left in a corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Wet floor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Wet floor
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Beds in decay
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Beds in decay
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Room full of beds
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Room full of beds
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Lots more beds
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Lots more beds
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Decaying room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Decaying room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Twin room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Twin room
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Single room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Single room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Chair in a decaying room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Chair in a decaying room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - X-Ray room with lead screen
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – X-Ray room with lead screen
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Large mirror
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Large mirror
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Toilets
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Toilets
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Corridor of cells
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Corridor of cells
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Row of doors in arched corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Row of doors in arched corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Cell doors
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Cell doors
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - More doors on another corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – More doors on another corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Light illuminates a single open door in decayed corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Light illuminates a single open door in decayed corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Slippery floor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Slippery floor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Nurse uniforms in changing room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Nurse uniforms in changing room
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Old mattresses
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Old mattresses
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Old office equipment
St. Brigids Hospital – Old office equipment
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Reflections in a flooded corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Reflections in a flooded corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Washers and dryers in the laundry rooms
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Washers and dryers in the laundry rooms
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Laundry press
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Laundry press
 
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Laundry area
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Laundry area
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - Very decayed corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – Very decayed corridor
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum - External view of the buildings
St. Brigids / Connacht Asylum – External view of the buildings

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