1861 – Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin

Architect: John Bourke



From The Irish Builder: “Though we have on former occasions noticed the progress and features of the large pile of building for some time in course of erection at Eccles-street, in this city, and intended as an hospital to be presided over by the Sisters of the Order of Mercy, we may appropriately, on the occasion of the opening, which took place on the 24th ult, recur thereto and quote description from our contemporary the Freeman :

The principal or north-west façade, facing Eccles-street, is nearly 300 feet in length, and is divided into five compartments by slightly projecting pavillions at the ends, and by a great central projection over 70 feet in length, having in the middle portion a recessed portico, with massive Ionic columns, 3 feet 6 inches in diameter, and forming together, with four adjoining pilasters, a frontispiece crowned by a great pediment, which overtops the rest of the building. Behind this will be the cupola, rising 120 feet from the surface. Two approaches to the ground floor lead into spacious waiting halls for out-patients of both sexes; opposite these are the approaches to the dispensary for out-patients; and on either side are doctors’ rooms, with private consulting rooms, ward dispensaries, &c.; and in the rere of all is a spacious laboratory, with all necessary accessories. Passing through the corridor right and left, the temporary reception wards are approached, together with the bathrooms for patients on entering. When the entire shall have been completed, the corridor referred to will pass round the entire building, looking out on the enclosed quadrangle. On the wings on ground floor will be, on the male and female sides, spacious ward robes, fumigating rooms, hospital stores, heating apparatus, entrance halls and staircases from recreation grounds, servants’ rooms, and refectories, together with lifts for beds and for the prepared food for the patients. The rere of the ground floor will contain the great kitchen, 70 feet in length, the larder, stores, oven and bakehouse, laundry and drying-rooms, vapour baths, together with a boiler and engine-rooms for raising water to the tanks on the roofs. The new water works bill will enable the architect to avoid the outlay necessary for the pumping apparatus, and will also relieve the good Sisters from a great yearly tax in the expenditure required for the working of a steam pumping engine.

The second floor is approached by two circular stairs of moulded granite. Passing through the portico to the entrance hall, which is richly furnished with mosaic pavements, niches, pilasters and lofty domed ceiling, on either side are the public reception rooms great linen dispensary, accident wards, convalescent rooms, &c. The apartments on both the upper stories, will be used at present as general wards, until the completion of the entire building. As before observed, the corridor, twelve feet in width, with lofty groined ceilings, will branch round both wings, and will terminate in the chapel at rere. Opposite the entrance hall is the grand staircase, which requires to be seen to be fully appreciated; behind the grand stairs and communicating with it is the beautiful apartment 50 feet by 34, adorned with Corinthian columns, and which is now used as a temporary chapel, to be applied in future to the general public uses of the establishment. On either side of this apartment are cross corridors leading to the operation wards, baths, &c., on both stories, and over it are the patho logical museum and an operation theatre altogether unequalled in this country. On both wings in the upper stories will be the great wards for both sexes, extending, from front to rere, 330 feet, having in central projections the staircases, tisaneries, baths, closets, &c.

In the rear of the building will be 28 spacious private rooms for pension patients, with central corridors terminating in the chapel, which will occupy the central portion of the rere of the building, and will be cruciform in plan, divided into nave and transepts, the latter of which will have aisles with arcades and lofty domed ceiling.

The nave will be set apart as a choir for the community, and will communicate with the projected convent at rere by a corridor entered through a campanile, which will rise 90 feet above the surface, and which will also form the vestibule of approach from the convent to the hospital wards, through two quadrantal corridors branching right and left. It is expected that the two upper stories when completed will give ample accommodation for 500 beds, and which, together with the ground floor, if used in a period of calamity, would give accommodation for 700 beds.

It is to be regretted that there is one drawback to the imposing appearance of the chaste and massive façade. An ugly excrescence rises from the roof behind the portico and causes disappointment in the minds of those who may be unaware of the causes. This excrescence is in fact the base of a cupola of pleasing and original design, intended to be the grand crowning ornament of the building, and to serve not only as a clock and bell tower, but also to be in connection with the campanile at rere, the chief medium of ventilation.”