Dr Steevens' Hospital

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Dr. Steevens' Hospital, Dublin

Dr Steevens' Hospital (also called Dr Steevens's Hospital) in EditDublin was one of Ireland's most distinguished eighteenth-century medical establishments. It was founded under the terms of the will of Dr Richard Steevens (1653-1710), an eminent physician in Dublin, and designed by Thomas Burgh.[1]


The hospital is built around a quaint old courtyard, with its arches forming a sort of cloister all around, and with peculiar attic windows that cut across the intersection of the roofs at each corner.[2]


Madame Griselda Steevens, who never married,[3] was left an income by her brother Dr Richard Steevens. This was from an estate in Westmeath and King's County which gave her £600 per annum for her life. It was to be used after her death to found a hospital. She, however, decided to use the money during her life, and founded, in 1720, the hospital near Kilmainham, which bears her brother's name. One condition that she attached to her donation was that she should be allowed to live there, which she did for the rest of her life.

She was often to be seen walking the grounds closely veiled, which led to speculation among the local Dublin populace, that she had a face like the snout of a pig, and that for shame she would not let it be seen. This unpleasant appearance was said to be the result of a curse consequent to a petulant and unfeeling remark made by her mother when pestered by the importunities of a beggar woman, with a baby at her breast, and a tribe of children at her heels. Grissel said "Get away, you are like an old sow, with a litter of bonhams." The beggar retorted with the wish that the lady's next child might be like the animal to which she had been compared.[4] The hospital was for long known as "Madame Steevens' Hospital".[1]

Dr. Steevens' Hospital in 1780[5]

In 1732, Edward Worth, one of the most eminent Dublin physicians of his day, died and bequeathed to Steevens' Hospital £1,000 and his library, then valued at £5,000, together with £100 for fitting it up. The hospital built a specially designed room to house the Edward Worth Library, where it remains to this day under updated protective conditions.[6]

In 1803, in the run-up to Robert Emmet's rebellion, the victims of a powerful explosion at his ammunition depot in Patrick St. were brought to the hospital. They were M'Intosh, the Keenans, Arthur Develin, George M'Donald and a few others, who were blown up at the time of the explosion, some of whom expired in the hospital afterwards.

In 1857 the Dublin School of Medicine was transferred to Dr. Steevens' Hospital and renamed Steevens' Hospital Medical College.

It no longer functions as a general hospital and is now an administrative centre for the Health Service Executive. The renovated and redecorated building faces the south side of Dublin's main railway terminal, Dublin Heuston.

Hospital Motto[edit]

The seal of the hospital consisted of 'The Good Samaritan healing the wounds of the fallen traveller' with the motto beneath "Do Thou Likewise".[7]


The hospital records are preserved and contain many curious entries, among others one as to the daily diet of a patient. He was to get comething like two quarts of small beer with his meals! But of course before tea and coffee came into general use, beer was almost the only alternative to water.[8] In recognition of this tradition, in the last days of the hospital operating as a hospital, Messrs. Arthur Guinness (a neighbour) provided Guinness beer in 1/3 pint bottles for all the patients and staff.[9]

Notable physicians[edit]

Dr. Proby (1661-1729), a native of Dublin, was a popular physician at the time of the foundation of Dr. Steevens' Hospital. To that institution he was devotedly attached, and in its chapel he desired to be buried. He left, on his death, a daughter whose husband, John Nichols (died 1767), was a doctor and who succeeded him in his office as first surgeon in the hospital. Nichols was also surgeon to the Dublin Hospital for Incurables as well as Surgeon-General of the Irish Army.

Abraham Colles (1773-1843) was appointed to the hospital in 1799, where he remained for 42 years.

Sir Henry Marsh was appointed physician at the hospital in 1820.[10]

Sir Charles Cameron, who later became Chief Medical Officer for Dublin, lectured for many years in chemistry and physics at the medical school in the hospital from 1857.[11]

Thomas Percy Claude Kirkpatrick (1869-1954) was appointed assistant physician at Dr Steevens's Hospital, which remained central to his medical practice and to his work as an historian. In 1908 he was appointed registrar of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.[12]

Edward Worth was a governor of the hospital and left his library to it.[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kirkpatrick, Thomas Percy Claude (2008). The History of Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 1720-1920. Dublin: University College Dublin. ISBN 1-906359-16-4. (Originally published: Dublin : University Press, 1924.)


  1. ^ a b Craig, Maurice (2006) [1952]. Dublin 1660-1860. pp. 122–124. ISBN 1-905483-11-2.
  2. ^ D.A. Chart, The Story of Dublin (London, 1932), p.274
  3. ^ D.A. Chart, The Story of Dublin (London, 1932), p.275
  4. ^ D.A. Chart, The Story of Dublin (London, 1932), pp263-4
  5. ^ DG18 Dr Steevens' Hospital. Dublin City Council. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b "The Edward Worth Library". Edwardworthlibrary.ie. 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-20. ...[T]he website of the Edward Worth Library (1733).
  7. ^ D.A. Chart, The Story of Dublin (London, 1932), pp273
  8. ^ D.A. Chart, The Story of Dublin (London, 1932), pp274-5
  9. ^ personal recollections
  10. ^ Alfred Webb: A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin, 1878
  11. ^ Cameron, Sir Charles (1913). Reminiscences of Sir Charles Cameron, Chief Medical Officer of Dublin Corporation. Dublin: Hodges & Figgis.
  12. ^ Kirkpatrick, Thomas Percy Claude (2008). The History of Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 1720-1920. Dublin: University College Dublin. ISBN 1-906359-16-4.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°20′43″N 6°17′32″W / 53.34528°N 6.29222°W / 53.34528; -6.29222