Drumcondra Hospital

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Coordinates: 53°21′47.71″N 6°15′52.89″W / 53.3632528°N 6.2646917°W / 53.3632528; -6.2646917

Drumcondra Hospital (originally, the Whitworth Fever Hospital, and from 1852 to 1893 the Whitworth General Hospital) was a voluntary hospital on Whitworth Road in Dublin, Ireland, that became part of the Rotunda Hospital in 1970.


At the time of the founding of the parish of St. George in 1793 a dispensary was provided at Cole's Lane to serve the poor of this and neighbouring parishes on the north side of Dublin. This proved insufficient for the increasing number of cases. A few years later, shortly after the establishment of the Cork Street Fever Hospital, an infirmary, St. George's Fever Hospital, was opened in Lower Dorset St.[1] It was succeeded in 1818 by the Whitworth Fever Hospital, built alongside the north banks of the Royal Canal and named after the lord lieutenant. It was founded in order to have a hospital on the north side of the city like the Cork St. Hospital on the south side. A period of great distress and epidemic, due to poverty among other things in those days, showed the advantages of such a hospital.[2]

The hospital was administered by a board of fifteen prominent Dublin gentlemen, presided over by the Duke of Leinster. The first staff were: physicians: J. Leahy, William J. Mangan, Robert J. Graves, Thomas Lee. Surgeons: Robert Adams and W. Wright. Resident physician: James Jackson.[2]

The hospital was first open only to poor patients who were unable to pay for medical attendance or proper treatment in their own homes. It later moved to a location on Whitworth Road that had originally been acquired in the 18th century for the new church of St. George. The burial ground of St. George was located behind the hospital.

At that time the hospital depended on support on voluntary subscriptions, as no grant from the government or other public funds were available. In 1834 a small number of paying wards were set up also.[2]

In 1846-47, the time of the Irish Famine, fever epidemics carried off victims by the hundred. The hospital quickly filled up, and fever sheds were erected along the canal bank for those for whom there was no space in the hospital.[2]

In 1852 the hospital ran out of money and was closed. It was taken over shortly afterwards by doctors dealing in deformities and renamed the Whitworth General Hospital. In 1860 it re-opened as a general hospital.[2]

Towards the end of the 19th century it came under the patronage of the Drumcondra Town Commissioners, and the name was changed (as there was another Whitworth hospital on the north side of the city). Money was raised from fetes, concerts, bazaars (the "Drum bazaar") and musical events.[2]

In 1911 staff were: Sir John William Moore, William Stoker, E. MacDowel Cosgrave, George O'Keeffe Wilson.[2]

At outbreak of World War I a small number of beds were set aside for wounded soldiers.[3]

The number of patients increased steadily through the first half of the 20th century. However costs also increased and the hospital was constantly appealing for volunteers to help with collections - it remained a voluntary hospital.

The hospital became an annexe of the Rotunda in the 1970 and the building was sold to the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) for £281,000 in 1987.

Notable physicians[edit]

Ephraim MacDowel Cosgrave (1847–1925)

Notable patients[edit]

John Stanislaus Joyce, father of James Joyce, died in December 1931 in the Hospital.


  1. ^ Drumcondra Hospital: A Short History. Ephraim MacDowel Cosgrave. Dublin Journal of Medical Science, 1916, December.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Irish Times, 7 January 1911, Famous Dublin Hospitals.
  3. ^ Irish Times, 24 December 1914
  • Fleetwood, John F (1983). The History of Medicine in Ireland. Dublin: Skellig Press.