Search Results for 'Noel Browne'
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‘No person shall suffer death for any offence’ - no, it is not a medieval monarchical decree, it is in fact the first order of the Criminal Justice Act 1990. The Act prohibited capital punishment under all circumstances within the Republic for the first time. The death penalty had remained on the Irish statute books exclusively for the offences of treason and murder, but from 1990 onward those crimes would carry a sentence of life imprisonment. To say the 1990 Act ended centuries of capital punishment in Ireland would be telling only half the story.
Merlin Park House was a large late Georgian pile surrounded by trees, but built on a sufficient height that it enjoyed views of Galway Bay. It was originally built in the early 19th century by the influential Blake family, who were renowned for throwing wild parties and hunting with the hounds.
It is no coincidence that the Regional (now the University College) Hospital and Merlin Park opened almost simultaneously in the mid 1950s. The Old Central Hospital, which had opened in 1922, became unfit for purpose, mainly due to overcrowding, and the difficulty accommodating long stay tuberculosis patients. Tuberculosis, or TB, was, in the early decades of the 20th century, at epidemic proporations. The same year that the Central Hospital opened, the same year as the foundation of our State, there were 4,614 deaths from TB; 611 were children under 15 years.
An interesting number of medical institutions were established in Galway in the 20th century. In 1908 the Port Sanitary Intercepting Hospital was built near the docks opposite Forthill Cemetery as quarantine for any suspected cases of cholera or smallpox that might have come in on board ship. It cost £1,000, had 20 beds, and happily it was never needed for its primary purpose and only ever housed three patients. It burnt down in 1966.
From the mid 1930s to the mid 1950s Galway medical services were on the verge of collapse. The situation at the Central Hospital was particularly chaotic. By 1933 the hospital had a nominal 317 acute beds but overcrowding soon became a permanent feature of the general and medical wards. In March 1938 the number of patients exceeded the beds by 10, with 251 in general wards, 52 in the fever, and 24 in maternity. It was common practice to accommodate patients on mattresses laid out between the beds.