1868 – St. Senan’s Hospital, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Architect: James Bell & James Farrell



The District Asylum was designed by James Bell and James Barry Farrell in the Italianate style, opened as the Enniscorthy Asylum in 1868. It became Enniscorthy Mental Hospital in the 1920s and was renamed St. Senan’s Hospital in the 1950s. After the introduction of deinstitutionalisation in the late 1980s the hospital went into a period of decline and closed completely in 2015

The Dublin Builder, January 15 1866, provides a full contemporaneous description of this vast complex.
“From a contemporary, who informs us rather mistily that this building is situated, as the majority of these district asylums are situated, on the choicest spot in the vicinity of Enniscorthy (we did not know before there was more than one of them on the banks of the Slaney), we extract some particulars of this one of the most important and successful of these important works to which we referred in our review at the close of the year. On another occasion we promise to present an illustration of it to our readers.

The asylum occupies an elevated position, and is set back about 250 yards from the Wexford-road, and lies parallel with that road and the River Slaney. It is intended to lay out the ground in front in terraces and slopes, as has been done in most instances of the kind.

The total length of the building is 630 ft ; which comprises a main or centre block, 124 ft. long, containing the physician’s residence and offices, boardroom, the chapel, the dining-hall, housekeeper’s room, and other accommodation that may be common to all classes and sexes of the patients, of whom there will be about 280. There are a male wing to the east, and a female wing to the west, each exceeding 232 ft., and containing, on each of three floors, a day-room or a dormitory for thirty-six patients, 34 ft. by 27 ft. ; one for fifteen patients, 23 ft. by 34 ft. ; and cells, 9ft. by 7 ft., to correspond. The convalescent patients are placed near the centre building, and the violent patients at the extreme end.

The ends of the wings may be described as T-shaped; the building extending to the rear forms the infirmary for each sex ; that extending to the front, 60 ft., is appropriated to day rooms and residences, stretching over 248 ft. from front to rear. To the rear of the central block, which projects 81 ft. is placed the kitchen building, with its usual laundry and other offices ; also a recreation and dining hall, measuring 62 ft. by 29 ft. and about 36 ft. high to a waggon-headed ceiling. This room is well calculated to answer as a concert-hall, a purpose which at intervals it is likely to serve. The kitchen is 30 ft. by 21 ft., and of good height. Close to the kitchens are a small farm-yard and offices, and over 100 ft. of a low building occupied as workshops for tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, smiths, &c., and a coal-shed. A tall and well-formed chimney-shaft carries off the smoke for the kitchen, laundry, &c.

The heights of the ceilings are 12 ft., and there are three floors in height. Fresh air will be supplied to the cells mainly from the corridors, in a manner moderated in extremes of temperature through openings a few feet overhead, filled with perforated zinc. The foul or vitiated air is conveyed from each cell through a flue in the internal wall to a trunk running along in the roof, through which it is conveyed to the central tower, induced thither by rarefaction ; in addition the windows throughout will be made to open up and down, the pivot sashes being, it is thought with reason, abandoned.

The heating will be altogether by means of fireplaces, most of the cells being provided with them as well as the dayrooms, dormitories, etc. Great facilities exist, and are taken advantage of, for the water supply. A tank at the top of each of five lofty towers will be kept constantly full, and will command any part of the building where water may be required.

These towers will form a landmark for miles around. A tower in each wing of 112 ft. altitude ; in the centre building, two 100 ft. each, and one of 90 ft. These heights, coupled with the effect of the materials of which they and the buildings are composed, cannot fail to place the design high in the list of erections of a like kind in the kingdom. The decoration, composed of contrastive colours mainly, in the brick and stone, is of a bold kind. There is no timiility observable here ; a little would have been salutary : the stone is of granite, and is quarried at Kilteely. It is more workable than Dalkey granite; it would, in fact, suit well for polished work in chimney-pieces, &c.

White Paisley bricks are used in panels, and form the chief dressings to the doors and windows, and are the chief vehicle of ornament, most of which is of a serrated character. The body of the work is composed of red bricks, made on the ground and in a field adjoining the asylum premises. The bricks are compressed and kiln burnt. A large number has recently been used in the construction of a tunnel for the Dublin and Wexford Railway. It is expected that the works of the lunatic asylum will be completed and ready for occupation in April, 1866. The total cost may be stated as about £40,000. The architects are Messrs. Farrell and Bell; and the contractor is Mr. Patrick Kerr. Mr. Bergia is clerk of the works.” The Dublin Builder, January 15 1866