Mental Health Museum Collection

Mental Health Historical Collection 

at St Brendan's Hospital Dublin

Patient records dating back to pre-famine times, nursing uniforms and training 

medals from a by-gone era and old surgical instruments are just some of the 

unique artefacts that have been gathered by the staff and former staff members

of St Brendan’s Hospital in Dublin’s Grangegorman.


Employees from the hospital have been assembling the artefacts, which also 

include an old strait-jacket, since the Seventies. Brian Donnelly, archivist, 

National Archives Office says it’s an extraordinary collection.


‘‘The case records are of great historic interest, both national and internationally. 

There were some innovative medical practitioners here over the years since the 

late 19th century and the records reflect their work. The collection offers a great 

insight into the human psyche over a very long period of time.’’


The case records show why patients were admitted for treatment and offer a real insight 

into the tough social conditions that prevailed in Ireland.


The 90-acre Richmond asylum in Grangegorman, 

which is right in the heart of Dublin's north city

opened its doors to patients in 1814. At one stage 

there were 2,000 patients in St Brendan’s  



HSE staff member Ray Keane feels the photographs of the patients in the case books 

are particularly valuable. ‘‘From about 1880, when a patient was admitted he was 

photographed – this stopped in the 1950s but for all those years staff could clearly 

describe their patients.’’     


There are very few similar records available elsewhere in the country.

Mr Donnelly wants to ensure they are preserved under proper archival conditions. 

‘‘We would like to see procedures in place to protect the confidentiality of the records 

but also to ensure the older records are available for legitimate, historical research,” he says.

Fr Piaras O'Duill has lovingly protected and preserved this incredible collection which give 

a fascinating insight into life at the hospital since 1814.

The Collection of artifacts, records and materials can be viewed by arrangement with 

Fr Piaras O Duill at St Brendan's Hospital, Dublin

The St Brendan's Hospital Campus is being redeveloped in association with 

Dublin Institute of Technology and the Grangegorman Development Agency