Sean Tully, a former nurse at St Brigid's Hospital Ballinasloe talks about it's history.
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.
Filetype: MP3 - Size: 9.61MB - Duration: 41:59 m (32 kbps 22050 Hz)
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