The Head Shop



A touch of urbex in Mulgrave Street, Limerick.

Photographer Donal Moloney writes:

Limerick Lunatic Asylum was founded in 1827. It was originally built to accommodate 150 patients. “Lunatics”, “imbeciles” and “idiots” as they would have been described by the authorities of the day, the asylum had 337 patients. By 1848 its population exploded to over 1,000 and kept growing. Ireland was the first nation to legislate for the provision of facilities for the mentally ill, and as such the Asylum stands as one of the first large institutions for the insane in the western world. In 1959 the complex became better known as St Joseph’s Hospital. Much of it today is lying derelict.

Donal Moloney

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9 thoughts on “The Head Shop

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    The reason why these places housed so many in this country is because we had a tradition of not understanding and not coping with mental illness. In fact, many patients were not ‘insane’ but just had learning difficulties or autism and so were shovelled off to mental institutions out of sheer ignorance and convenience. Families were large; it was widely accepted that one of the litter might not ‘meet the grade’. I’ve seen photographers shoot abandoned asylums with all its dereliction – boring in my opinion. I’d rather see images which tel;l the story of the poor unfortunate people that found themselves locked up within their walls.

    1. delacaravanio

      With respect, that’s utter nonsense. It’s not that ‘we’ had a tradition of not understanding and coping with mental illness, it was everywhere. The asylums were built as they were a step above the previous way of treating mental illness: execution. This was a time when one could be hung for stealing a horse, cow, sheep, pretty much anything. If they weren’t violent or didn’t break the law the “village idiot” was often ran out of town (or set sail on a ‘ship of fools’, or tolerated as a local curiosity).

      The psychiatric hospitals represented the best of social progress of their time, and should be viewed as such, not as prisons for “the poor unfortunate people that found themselves locked up within their walls.” What replaced the psychiatric hospitals in modern Ireland, Britain and the USA: actual prisons, building doorways, and the spaces beneath railway arches and motorway flyovers.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Ok so the asylums replaced a more draconian system. But the culture of absolute diagnosis persisted.

  2. Otis Blue

    I thought that the first picture depicted some hipster’s hair salon.

    Just a matter of time, I guess.

  3. Soundings

    In 1848 with a million starving and another million on boats out of here, probably one of the sanest things you could do was to get a place in an institution where you might at least hope to be fed.

  4. Just sayin'

    I think they’re putting a courthouse on the grounds. Its right next to the prison. The building look impressive from the outside. It nice to get a glimpse of the interior.

  5. Digs

    I’m a huge fan of industrial and institutional dereliction. I don’t like that photographers work though. Derivative, but not in a flattering way.

Comments are closed.

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