St Loman's Hospital - July 2021

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UrbandonedTeam

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St Loman's Hospital

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The main block of St Loman’s is a freestanding 41 bay, 3 storeyed hospital built on twenty-five acres of land purchased in 1848 for which eventually opened as the Mullingar District Lunatic Asylum in August 1855. It was extended 40 years later. The hospital is a well-detailed Victorian institutional complex, in the Gothic style with extensive Tudor Gothic detailing. The structure was built to designs by John Skipton Mulvany, possibly the most celebrated architect operating in Ireland at the time. It cost £35,430 to build, equivalent to €3.2 million in today and was built to accommodate 300 patients. The first patients were transferred from the Richmond Surgical Hospital in Dublin, and all of them were female. In the grounds of the hospital, there are various buildings including a chapel which was constructed 1886, a nurses' home and an infirmary which were built 1940. While looking further into the history of the asylum it was apparent that there were plenty of dramatic events that took place over its lifetime. A severe lack of care for the patients was a common occurrence during the time the hospital was open. There are multiple accounts of mistreatment in the early to mid-20th century. The most notable account was of Hanna Greally who was admitted in 1943 by her mother after witnessing the London Blitz. Greally published a book in 1971 called Bird’s Nest Soup which is said to provide a grim picture of life inside one of these institutions in the 40s-50s. On top of the poor care at Loman’s, a reported 1304 bodies are buried in the grounds, with the last body being buried in 1970. Each grave is unmarked, and a cross is stored somewhere in an outbuilding on site with a number attached. Aside to the dark history behind this institute, Loman’s was subject to an ISIS chemical attack hoax where the nurse staff were delivered an envelope containing a white powder and a note with the message “ISIS is going to get you”. This sparked the Gardaí and army to respond and lockdown the hospital and put a cordon in place until the Army Bomb Disposal unit had examined the powder. The closure for this hospital should have been prompt after the Inspector of Mental Health Services produced a report in 2007 with findings of poor conditions such as peeling paint, damp, poor sanitary facilities and many more. The report ended with the statement: “every effort must be made to close the hospital immediately”. The main building shut years later in 2013. However there are 2 newer active wards within the grounds and sections that are still live connecting to the main derelict block. Thanks Theo.

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One of the better chance decisions we've made as a group. The unexpected and spontaneous ventures are always the most rewarding, with this huge, district lunatic asylum in Ireland being proof of that. We had other plans in the region, but when they didn't come to fruition and I needed to recharge my gear at a Tesco, we figured we might as well look at the nearby lead of mine featuring a huge asylum with sections apparently closed. There wasn't really much else to it than a slight aspect of overgrowth on the land around the back that had led me to pin it, as well as the factor that most Irish asylums contain disused parts.

Arriving at the site, we initially thought we would be looking at a miniscule segment of the colossal structure from it's imposing, tidy front. However, moving around the back to where it seemed a lot more active, it was clear that much more of the building was out of use than we had thought. Our opening attempts of entry were very simple and nonchalant, but gazing through the windows at classic asylum details, we then began to try more unusual methods. A worker halted us only to discover what we were doing and express his approval, which also provoked us to really work to getting in, because it felt like the opportunity was too golden. Eventually, after testing one of the dirtiest squeezes I had ever done, even requiring a clothes swap with Theo, I ended up inside a bathroom, only to find that all the doors were locked. Extreme sadness... as it was an attempt where I was convinced if I got through, I wouldn't be leaving the same way. Getting back out was immensely difficult and needed a guide on the opposing side of the wall, but eventually it was deemed possible. Thankfully, the next window along worked fine and I was in.

Having left my equipment in Tesco, the others scooted off to collect it. They went on the way accompanied with a video from me, 'Hi, I'm currently stuck, but these here are my friends and I give permission for them to get my stuff. Thanks,' something like that. Meanwhile, myself and Oli found a door to open and started to meander around the site, uncovering more stunning asylum iconography as we did so. We couldn't believe the state of the asylum, with minimal decay and practically everything left behind. It was truly fascinating walking through, unknowing what exceptional gems would be in each room, such as a perfectly intact dentist chair in an upstairs canteen. The others soon returned and we spent a solid five hours within the complex.

Starting on the ground floor of three. There is a basement there, but unfortunately, we ran out of time pressured by a security guard. Some real interest could be stashed down there.

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The far west side of the main block's corridor was blatantly abandoned, with some beautifully coloured corridors.

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Common room. The fire alarm was going off here.

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The first of many hydrotherapy baths.

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On the way to the kitchens, which directly connects to active areas. We didn't stay here for too long, but had a lovely conversation with a worker through a window.

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Main hall/canteen. Probably modernised in the last 30 years or so, but still boasted some ornate features. The women we spoke to informed us that the beds were to be sent back to hospitals around the country after the pandemic. It reminded me of that one in Kent.

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Main entrance.

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Some form of classroom.

On the second floor, it started to appear like it had been disused for a lot longer. There weren't any signs that the occasional worker may enter these sections. The corridors were conventionally hospital coloured, with outdated equipment left behind and there was a lot more natural deterioration.

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Beds.

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In between different corridors, these open areas were always prominent, with a nice fireplace and a bay window.

From here, we found what we'd consider the jackpot. It seemed that anything rare had been stashed in what was actually a small canteen. The room had a bit of everything, forcing us to spend a long, long time in here, looking through books, old medicine bottles and archive photographs, whilst also appreciating the many dated artefacts gathering dust.

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Dentist's chair.

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A small Penny Farthing.

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Old iron.

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Sewing machine.

To be continued.
 

UrbandonedTeam

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Model of the labyrinth of the ear.

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Human skeleton on the opposing side.

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Some trophies.

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Eventually, after a few days, we were able to leave that room and continue looking around.

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Back into the admin section of the building. There were some ornate rooms here, but a lot were locked and being used for storage.

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Second floor canteen.

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Wards.

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Up to the third and highest floor. Besides the admin areas, there wasn't too much to see at this level, besides some more ace corridors. Most belongings had been removed and some sections were fairly modern. The power worked in every room, though.

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A nice hall.

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More hydrotherapy baths with the first drop down ceiling of the building.

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Archive room.


Here is the link to our documentary styled video filmed at the asylum. We cover the property's past, present and future through cinematics and narration:



Thanks for reading :)
 

Hayman

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Thank you for the extensive video. And the quality of the material and the commentary.

That there was a 'need' in such a lightly populated country as pre-partition mainly Catholic Ireland to house 300 women in quite rural Mullingar says a lot about how women were perceived in those days. It was also the time of the Magdalene laundries, where unmarried girls and women were faced with daily drudgery just because they had become pregnant when not wed. I wonder how many of those women who ended up at the incongruously named St Loman’s were also unmarried mothers.

What struck me was the wide age range of items seen.

What was described as a small penny-farthing looks more like a dandy horse but with a small rear wheel. The dandy horse was an early bicycle consisting of two wheels, frame, handle bars and seat. No pedals, and certainly no chain. It was straddled, and propelled on the level or uphill by using long strides of the feet on the ground; downhill gravity took over. The white ring welded to behind the seat suggests a flower-pot holder, or for a hand to keep it upright.

How come there were fluorescent tube lights lit in the unused parts? Were the corridors still being used at night-time?

Perhaps the high-ceilinged, timber-roofed room had been a chapel of some type. Its size indicated a meeting room of sorts. The timber roof had a significance now lost.

The wide variety of paint schemes shows how ideas of what colours the walls and floors of an asylum/mental hospital should be have changed with time. From pastel to bright, they certainly were intended to have different effects on both the staff and the inmates/patients.

What might have happened to the missing wooden scroll that once adorned the mantelpiece clock (21:45 mins)?

The “No Mobile Phones Beyond This Point” notice (at 21:22 mins) harks back to when most hospital equipment was deemed sensitive to the electronic ‘noise’ created by mobile phones. Was the sign something to do with the controls for the hydrotherapy baths? Today the air is totally polluted with radio transmissions, and no one seems worried in the least; except some airlines concerned about the strength of 5G signals.

The old-fashioned ribbed glass bottle – to indicate poisonous contents – sat well beside the equally old-fashioned suitcases.

Two long-disused items are the iron-framed, iron-wheeled, four-wheeled carrier for some heavy objects (rather than a boy racer) and the two wheeled, solid-tyred wooden-trayed carrier, again for transporting something – perhaps meals or medicines.

The obviously decorative fireplaces (17:31 mins) looked very out of place; fake additions. Just as false as the imitation (?) pine cones in the electric fires.

At 17:15 mins, the very Victorian-looking headless doll – with its lace trappings – was another intruder.

The heavy electric typewriters and the calculating machine – all with large keys – were again of an era now gone.

The peeling paint did give the place an air of gentle decay, something I have seen as far apart as west Africa and New Jersey.

And finally – I smiled at the NO PHOTOGRAPHY sign at the end of the video. Perhaps it was near the part of the building still in use. The well-tended grass was certainly not abandoned.

Thanks again.
 

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