Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our Lady's Hospital.

I went up the Lee Road a friend for to see,
They call it the mad house in Cork by the Lee.
But when I got up there the truth I do tell
They had the poor bugger locked up in a cell.
Johnny Jump Up, Cork folk song.

Christ, and people sometimes ask why I'm fascinated by Victorian shit- growing up in a town where this Gothic monstrosity glowers down upon all and sundry from atop its gloomy hill! If ever there was a place that was haunted, it's Our Lady's Hospital on the Lee Road. It's a (partly abandoned) real-life Victorian asylum complete with sinister towers, belfries and circling ravens. Even on a bright cheerful morning, this place oozes a delicious malevolence. It's positively eldritch, as Lovecraft would say (ever notice how the word eldritch is only ever used when talking about Lovecraft?). Our Lady's is famously the longest building in Ireland, at nearly a mile in length. Cork people often refer to the entire structure as St. Anne's, and they also tend not to diffrentiate between the grey section, Our Lady's (which is today partly renovated as apartments) and the red section, St. Kevin's, which is out-and-out abandoned.

The grey part of the building (the long part) was built in 1852 as Eglinton Lunatic Asylum, a Gothic-style building. It is situated atop the steep hill that runs alongside the Lee Road. From the asylum, there is a great view of the south side of the city. It continued to operate as an asylum under several different names before closing following almost a century of damning reports regarding the care of its patients. Today, about two thirds of it have been renovated as Atkins Hall.

You can see here where the disused wing begins...

This is St. Kevin's, the completely abandoned building. This is as close as I got on this occasion...


  1. This inspired me to my own blog entry (and I will follow this blog from now on):
    Big Catholic Buildings: Cork Lee Road

    What is it about Catholicism that it managed to build spectacularly large buildings? Structures which like Ushaw College in County Durham and up for closure are very difficult to handle in the 21st century. But here is one which can claim to top the lot: Our Lady's Hospital, up the Lee Road, Cork.

    I found it because I am listening to a Gaelic Storm CD which has a spirited rendition of "Johnny Jump Up" and if you work at "up the Lee Road" and do some googling all is explained by this building. The railway enthusiast in me is taken by The Railwaymen's Bar at Youghal elsewhere on the track. Although HQ is in Northumberland I have reached Cork in the cause of train chasing but this building eluded me. Glimpsed from a train in 2008 was a similar structure outside Enniscorthy.

  2. Most of the building that's featured in these pictures was originally the Victorian Edlington Asylum. At that time, and with that name, I don't think the Catholic Church had much to do with it (though I could be wrong).

    I did get inside the next week, but I've no idea where the photos are from that expedition...

  3. I just visited both buildings last week or should I say saw it. I ran into a man who keeps his horses on the grounds, they help keep the grass cut. He told me that a common term in Cork to indicate that a person was crazy is "He/She is up Lee Road" Me said he new a man who worked there and said it was a very sad place, the man he knew ended up going mad himself. I will be back there in 2 weeks and hope to do some research.

  4. I lived in Cork for 4 months in 1995 and fell in love with that building, and it went to auction wile I was there, we actually put in a proposal to turn it in to apartments and convention center. The place sold for €900,000 if I remember correctly, amazing value for the €.

    At the center rear of the main building, there is an old ballroom with a mosaic title floor, beautiful even after years of neglect. I would want a priest to bless an apartment if I bought one though, just image the ghosts of all those tortured souls that went thru there.

  5. HI every one - well, my Mum was interned here - 1950
    and died later at 24yrs; She had two children , close together, and probably had extreme Post natal depression, I have been advised so. And yes ,I have literature that shows that the County Council worked 'through the night '! to discuss the'Terrible' treatment of Patients, in an extremely
    Dirty Hospital - came to late for my Mum, though I often Light a Candle for Her.

  6. On 30 December 2010 some anti-social people broke into the disused wing and set it on fire. The wing was extensively damaged and much of the roof has gone. As for the people being anti-social, perhaps they inadvertently did the Cork community a big favour! I know of a man who was incarcerated here from 1940 to his death in 1975. Thirty five years in that hell-hole.

  7. i can not understand why they built this building so big.this lady's Hospital on the Lee Road is a very huge and beautiful building structure i must say. it will be a adventure to live in this type of old and antique apartment .

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  8. Both of my parents worked here as nurses, my mother as an Australian for a year and my father, as a Corkman, for several years before moving to oz. My grandfather also was a nurse here, so I have great association with the place. It was pretty horrible, I've been told, as far aas patient treatment. They weren't mistreated by the nurses, but the living conditions which came from being treated in an out-dated Victorian building in the late seventies and early eighties made for very uncomfortable wards. Men and women were separated, and there were many old fashioned customs at the hospital up til its shutdown date. But many psychiatric nurses in Cork who are above the age of 50 or so would have worked here. Its an iconic building anyway, for sure.