Rotunda Hospital

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Rotunda Hospital
Health Service Executive - RCSI Hospitals
Rotunda Hospital.jpg
Rotunda Hospital frontage on Parnell Street
Rotunda Hospital is located in Central Dublin
Rotunda Hospital
Shown in Dublin
LocationParnell Square East, Rotunda, D01 P5W9, Dublin, Ireland
Coordinates53°21′09″N 6°15′45″W / 53.3526°N 6.2626°W / 53.3526; -6.2626Coordinates: 53°21′09″N 6°15′45″W / 53.3526°N 6.2626°W / 53.3526; -6.2626
Care systemHSE
Affiliated universityRoyal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Dublin City University
PatronBartholomew Mosse
SpecialityMaternity hospital
Former name(s)Dublin Lying-In Hospital
ListsHospitals in the Republic of Ireland

The Rotunda Hospital (Irish: Ospidéal an Rotunda;[1] legally the Hospital for the Relief of Poor Lying-in Women, Dublin)[2] is a maternity hospital on Parnell Street in Dublin, Ireland, now managed by RCSI Hospitals.[3] The eponymous Rotunda in Parnell Square is no longer a part of the hospital complex.


The Rotunda Hospital in 1780
Back of the hospital, showing tennis courts. ca. 1890s
Sign on the Rotunda hospital, with a neon light image of a stork

The hospital was founded by Bartholomew Mosse, a surgeon and midwife who was appalled at the conditions that pregnant women had to endure, in George's Lane in March 1745.[4] It was granted by Royal Charter on 2 December 1756 by King George II.[5] Lying-in is an archaic term for childbirth (referring to the month-long bed rest prescribed for postpartum confinement).[6] The venture was very successful and Mosse raised money through concerts, exhibitions and even a lottery to establish larger premises.[7] The hospital moved to new premises, designed by Richard Cassels,[8] where it became known as "The New Lying-In Hospital" in December 1757.[9] The Church of Ireland Chapel was opened in 1762.[10] Open to the public, it provided a healthy income to the hospital annually, Dr. Mosse successfully encouraging wealthy Protestant Dubliners to attend service there.[11][12]

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".[13] This issue was not limited to the Lying-In-Hospital. In that era, ventilation improvement was a general issue in patient care,[14] along with other issues of sanitation and hygiene, and the conditions in which surgeons such as Robert Liston in Britain and elsewhere, had to operate.[15][16] Florence Nightingale famously worked on the design of safe and healthy hospitals.[14]

The first caesarean section in Ireland was undertaken at the hospital in 1889.[17]


The eponymous Rotunda is a rotunda designed by James Ensor,[8] which was completed just in time for a reception hosted by the James FitzGerald, Marquess of Kildare in October 1767.[18] The extensive Rotunda Rooms, designed by Richard Johnston and built adjacent to the rotunda, were completed in 1791.[19] By the early 19th century the hospital had become known as the Rotunda Hospital, after its most prominent architectural feature.[20] The Rotunda became a theatre, where the Irish Volunteers' first public meeting was held in 1913, and later the Ambassador Cinema. The Rotunda Rooms now house the Gate Theatre.[21]


The Rotunda Hospital, as both a maternity hospital and also as a training centre (affiliated with Trinity College Dublin)[22] is notable for having provided continuous service to mothers and babies since inception, making it the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world.[23] It is estimated that over 300,000 babies have been born there.[24]


In 2000 the Rotunda was one of two Dublin maternity hospitals found to have illegally retained organ tissue from babies without parental consent. The tissue removed in postmortem examinations was retained for some years. The Rotunda hospital admitted that that permission should have been sought for this process to be allowed to take place.[25]

A medical negligence award was approved in 2020 for a young boy who developed cerebral palsy as a result of complications with his delivery at the hospital in 2004.[26][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ospidéal an Rotunda". té Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  2. ^ "S.I. No. 329/1999 - Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations, 1999". electronic Irish Statute Book. First Schedule, No.30. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Six hospital groups 'most fundamental reform in decades'". Irish Medical Times. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  4. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 7
  5. ^ "The Rotunda Charter Booklet" (PDF). Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ Slemons, J. Morris (1912). "The Prospective Mother: A Handbook for Women During Pregnancy".
  7. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 25
  8. ^ a b "Rotunda Hospital". Architecture Of Dublin. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  9. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 35
  10. ^ "Chronological History of the Rotunda Hospital" (PDF). Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  11. ^ "History: Heroes: Bartholomew Mosse". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Bartholomew Mosse and the Rotunda". Newstalk. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  13. ^ Claridge, Capt. R.T. (1843). Hydropathy; or The Cold Water Cure, as practiced by Vincent Priessnitz, at Graefenberg, Silesia, Austria (8th ed.). London: James Madden and Co. p. 37. Retrieved 29 October 2009. Full text at Internet Archive (
  14. ^ a b Nightingale, Florence (1860). Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not. Boston: William Carter. Retrieved 24 October 2009. Full text at Internet Archive (
  15. ^ Gordon, Richard (1983). "Disastrous Motherhood: Tales from the Vienna Wards". Great Medical Disasters. London: Hutchinson & Co. pp. 43–46. p.43
  16. ^ Holmes, O.W. (March 1842). "On the contagiousness of puerperal fever". New England Quarterly Journal of Medicine. i: 503–30. in Gordon, R. (1983), p.147.
  17. ^ "New RTE series delves behind the scenes at world's longest running maternity hospital in Dublin". Irish Post. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  18. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 68
  19. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 104
  20. ^ Kirkpatrick, p. 198
  21. ^ "90 Years of The Gate Theatre | Dublin City Council". Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Trinity College Campus Maps:-Rotunda". University Of Dublin, Trinity College. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  23. ^ "The Rotunda: Behind the scenes at the world's oldest maternity hospital". Irish Times. 14 September 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Patient Information Booklet" (PDF). Totunda Hospital. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Rotunda and Holles Street kept babies' organ tissue". 29 February 2000. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ "Boy gets €3m over birth brain injuries". Irish Examiner. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  27. ^ "Medical Negligence Claim against the Rotunda Hospital | Irish Medical Negligence". 12 February 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2020.


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