The Rotunda Hospital (Ospidéal an Rotunda in Irish) is one of the three main maternity hospitals in the city of Dublin, the others being the Coombe and the National Maternity Hospital. The hospital is located just off the top of O'Connell Street, on Parnell Square, on the north side of the city.
The hospital, originally known as "The Dublin Lying-In Hospital", was founded in 1745 by Bartholomew Mosse (1712-1759), a surgeon and man-midwife who was appalled at the conditions that pregnant mothers had to endure at the time. Initially located in George's Lane on the site of a recently closed theatre, the hospital was later moved to its present location in 1757 where it became known as "The New Lying-In Hospital", referred to today as "The Rotunda".
Records indicate that around 1781, "when the hospital was imperfectly ventilated, every sixth child died within nine days after birth, of convulsive disease; and that after means of thorough ventilation had been adopted, the mortality of infants, within the same, in five succeeding years, was reduced to one in twenty". This issue was not limited to the Lying-In-Hospital. In that era, ventilation improvement was a general issue in patient care. Along with other issues of sanitation and hygiene, and the conditions in which surgeons such as Robert Liston in the U.K. and elsewhere, had to operate.
The design of the hospital's main building was undertaken by the renowned architect Richard Cassels, who was also responsible for Leinster House, Russborough House and Powerscourt House, among others.
Because it was a charitable institution, the hospital had several public function rooms in which fundraising activities were held. One of these areas was a large rotunda, after which the hospital is now named, but which is now a part of the Gate Theatre.
The Rotunda, as both a maternity hospital and also as a training centre (affiliated with Trinity College, Dublin) is notable for having provided continuous service to mothers and babies since inception, making it the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world. It is estimated that over 300,000 babies have been born there. In 1889, the first caesarean section performed in Ireland was performed at the Rotunda.
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- Patient Information Booklet