Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow's Former Fever Hospitals
Survey of Hospital Archives in Ireland

Survey of Hospital Archives in CARLOW Ireland
A county infirmary was established in Carlow town in 1767.
Fever hospitals were established in Tullow in 1827, in Carlow town in 1829 and in
Bagenalstown in 1832.

Carlow District Lunatic Asylum opened in 1832 for the reception of patients from Carlow, Kildare, Wexford and Kilkenny. By the late 1860s it catered just for Carlow and Kildare.

One poor law union was established in the county. Carlow Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 15th of September 1840. The workhouse was designed to accommodate 800 inmates and its first admission was in November 1844.

In the first decade of the 20th century the institutions in the county included the workhouse, with infirmary and fever hospital at Carlow, and small hospitals at Muinebeag (Bagenalstown) and Tullow.

In addition, the poor of all classes in Baltinglass and Idrone Rural Districts, had access to the workhouse infirmaries and fever hospitals of the Baltinglass and New Ross Poor Law Unions.

The County Scheme

The reorganisation of the local public health infrastructure which took place throughout Ireland in the early 1920s under the County or Amalgamation Schemes was not as traumatic in Carlow as in other counties. Under the Carlow County Scheme Order, 1923, a county home was established which utilised the old cavalry barracks in the town, the Free State Army having taken over the workhouse, which was, some years later, demolished.

Under the Scheme, the following classes were to be accommodated in the county home: - aged and infirm, chronic invalids, harmless lunatics and epileptics, children, unmarried mothers, and maternity cases, and the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor found all these classes there when they visited the institution in the mid-1920s. They also noted that part of the accommodation had been set aside for cases of pulmonary tuberculosis and cancer and that there was a maternity department attached to the home.

A district hospital was established in the old county infirmary building. The accommodation amounted to 17 beds and minor operations only were undertaken, serious cases being sent to Dublin. The Fever Hospital, Carlow, was a separate building situated about half a mile from the county home. The district hospital in Muinebeag could accommodate 15 beds and had a small detached fever hospital with two wards. The district hospital in Tullow was a building of the bungalow type erected in 1922, accommodating 16 beds and was connected by a covered passage to a small fever hospital.

In other counties, the county schemes had led to significant reductions in the number of institutions maintained at county expense. In Carlow, the county authorities were financially supporting almost the same number of public institutions as had existed before the establishment of the state. It was a situation which would retard the expansion of the hospital infrastructure in the county as the century progressed.

Later 20th Century Developments

In the mid-1930s, a surgical, medical and midwifery hospital run by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary was established in Carlow and operated until 1967. In September 1949 Tullow District Hospital became a TB institution and operated in that capacity for a few years until its closure. The county home became known as the Sacred Heart Home in December 1952. By March 1957, 41% of the population in the county was on the general medical services register which entitled them to free hospital treatment. As a result of the decline in infectious disease, Carlow fever hospital closed in December 1956.

In 1971 the county became part of the South Eastern Health Board. The district hospital in Muinebeag, St. Lazerian’s, closed in 1987. In April 1986 the present Sacred Heart Hospital was opened on the site of the old county home.




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