A meeting of the corporation held on April 17, 1766, decided that “A committee consisting of the principal gentlemen of the town, be, and are accordingly appointed to inquire and find out a proper place within the county of the town of Galway for erecting a public infirmary or hospital for the reception of the poor, sick and disabled persons.”
The committee selected a site on Prospect Hill and the Governors of the Erasmus Smith School granted two acres of ground free of charge for ever. The infirmary was erected there and opened in 1802.
Before that, a small building in Woodquay was used as an infirmary for many years. Later it moved to Abbeygate Street, a location described in 1788 as “An old house with two rooms on a floor, in one of which there were three men, and in the other old bedsteads without bedding, all very dirty; allowance to each three pints of new milk and two pennyworth of bread.”
The rules and regulations in the new Prospect Hill building were very strict — “No patient is to be allowed to spit or dirty the walls or floor of the house, as spitting boxes and bed pots are provided for the purpose; and no smoking of pipes allowed on any account in the wards.”
Breakfast was one quart of good stirabout with one pint of new milk, or one quart of sour. Supper was the same. For dinner, you got one pound of good household loaf bread and one quart of new milk four days a week, and a half pound of boiled meat, one quarter stone of potatoes with as much broth and vegetables as you could eat on the other three days.
If you were not a hospital case before that diet, you certainly would be after it.
After the end of British rule, the county council decided that the workhouse would be upgraded to become the Central Hospital for both city and county and in April, 1930, the council decided to borrow £5,000, repayable in 15 years for the purpose of converting the infirmary into offices and to transfer the county council staff from the courthouse to there.
The building was demolished in 1979 and replaced by the current structure.
The Old Galway Society is hosting a lecture this evening in the Victoria Hotel at 8pm. It will be given by Michael Gibbons and Shane Joyce on the subject of “Alcock and Brown – the transatlantic crossing 100 years on”. All are welcome.