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Our Lady's Hospice

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Title: Our Lady's Hospice  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Blackrock, Dublin, Harold's Cross, Rathfarnham Castle, John J. O'Kelly, Mary Aikenhead, 1879 in Ireland, St. Francis Hospice, Raheny, Hospice, Sheila Humphreys
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Our Lady's Hospice

Our Lady's Hospice is a hospice with its main centre in Harold's Cross, Dublin and a specialist palliative care unit in Blackrock, County Dublin in Ireland. The Hospice was founded and run by the Religious Sisters of Charity, a congregation themselves founded by Mary Aikenhead. They provide specialist care for people with a range of needs from rehabilitation to end of life care.[1] Our Lady's Hospice is commonly misspelt Our Ladies Hospice. The "Our Lady" is referring to the Mary, mother of Jesus.


Mary Aikenhead

Mary Aikenhead (1787–1858) was born in Cork and was a member of the Anglican Communion until the age of 15 when she converted to Roman Catholicism. During her life she founded 13 houses around Ireland, all working for the poor, the ignorant, the imprisoned, the sick, the dying and the deprived. She established St. Vincent's Hospital, in St. Stephen's Green in Dublin in 1834, the first hospital in Ireland to be staffed and run by women. The hospital was the precursor of St. Vincent's University Hospital in Elm Park, County Dublin.[1]

Religious Sisters of Charity

In 1815, Mary Aikenhead founded the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity in Dublin in response to the grinding poverty pervading the city. The Congregation's response to the needs of the people was inspired by their motto Caritas Christi Urget Nos, meaning The love of Christ empowers us.[1]


Our Lady's Mount

In 1845, Mary Aikenhead, who owing to illness had been advised to move from the city to the country, bought "Greenmount", a late 18th-century house on raised ground at Harold's Cross. She bought it from a family called Webb who were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). A price was agreed with the Sisters and the Webb family kept their word despite a higher offer being received from the Mount Jerome Cemetery Company. The Sisters renamed the house to "Our Lady's Mount" and Mary Aikenhead moved there in September 1845. Within days, 20 novices and 30 Sisters followed their Superior General to what had now become the Mother House and Novitiate of the congregation.[1]

Infectious Diseases in Dublin

Around the time the hospice was founded, the incidence of TB in Dublin was twice that of anywhere in Ireland and even that of London and Glasgow. The incidences of typhoid and measles was triple that of London. By 1889 it was claimed that Dublin had the highest death rate of any Continent or North American city, where it was topped only by Calcutta. Dublin's high mortality rates were reasoned at the time to very sick rural people moving to Dublin in search of care, and thus contributing to Dublin's mortality rate.[2]

Research by Thomas Wrigley Grimsham in the early 1880s showed that the instance of TB in Ireland was rising compared to the rest of the UK where it was falling. He was able to show that from the 1860s to the 1880s there was a steady increase in the number of deaths of TB and it was also more prelevant in urban areas.

Establishing the Hospice

The Congregation established Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross in 1879. There were just two hospitals at that time in Dublin which took fever patients. The first was the Hardwicke Fever Hospital, which opened in 1803 beside the Richmond Surgical Hospital, on Brunswick Street North in Grangegorman and which was part of the institutional complex of the House of Industry at that location. The second was St. Laurence's Hospital on Cork Street which opened in 1804.

Hospice Expansion

Harolds Cross

New buildings were added including a night school for women and girls, a Sunday School and in 1851 a large day school was started.

Throughout the 20th century there were further developments including a new laundry, the rose garden and an upgraded Palliative Care and Rheumatology Rehabilitation facilities for the Hospice.

A new Education and Research Centre costing €6.5 million commenced construction in April 2006 and was officially opened by Mary Harney TD in April 2008.

Blackrock (The Venerable Louis and Zelie Martin Hospice)

53°17′56″N 6°10′42″W / 53.2990°N 6.1782°W / 53.2990; -6.1782

In December 2003, Our Lady's Hospice opened a satellite unit for specialist palliative care in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. It was provided through the generosity of the Louis and Zelie Martin Foundation.[1]

Further reading

  • Katherine Butler / Sisters of Charity (1980) We help them home: the story of Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin, 1879–1979
  • T. M. Healy (2004) 125 years of caring in Dublin: Our Lady's Hospice, Harolds Cross 1879-2004
  • Multitext Project in Irish History, University College Cork


External links

  • Official Website
  • Irish Hospice Foundation

Coordinates: 53°19′38″N 6°16′51″W / 53.3271°N 6.2807°W / 53.3271; -6.2807

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