is known about these baths except that they were
already reported to be open by 15 November 1859
when they were mentioned in a lecture given by
Robert Wollaston in Cheltenham.
He describes the style, general
location, and beneficial effect in a manner typical of many early
accounts of the Turkish bath.
The Bath at Killarney, close to the Hotel
and the Lakes, is remarkably elegant—it is on a small scale. Its
structure is entirely Turkish, with domes and minarets. It succeeds
extremely well, from the numerous visitors who frequent that splendid
Hotel...for the accommodation of the thousands who visit those truly
magnificent Lakes. After a long fatiguing day on the lakes and
mountains, I never felt more absolute refreshment from the Bath which I
took in the evening before I retired to rest, and repeated early next
morning. The stiffness of limbs, arising from walking and riding many
miles over rugged roads, was entirely removed, and the early symptoms of
a threatening cold vanished like the morning dew.
Not everyone gave such a glowing
account. Francis Drake, who visited the bath a couple of years later
clearly did not approve of the ventilation system. In an article in
The Builder, later reprinted as a pamphlet, he wrote:
The baths under [Dr Barter's] supervision
in Dublin, Cork, Blarney, Killarney, Belfast, and other places which I
visited, are all upon the hypocaust principle, and subject to all the
evils I have mentioned, notwithstanding the improvements he has made in
ventilation. On one occasion I entered the Tepidarium of the Killarney
bath, when ten men of the working-class were in it, and the effluvium
was such that I was glad to make a precipitate retreat, and these men
too were accustomed to the bath!
However, this criticism needs
careful examination as it appends all Barter's other baths to the
account of an incident in one of them. Drake is clearly against the use
of the hypocaust and the Killarney incident has been used as an argument
against them, rather than being specifically directed against these
Even more relevant is that Drake
was not a disinterested critic. Shortly after this article was
published, he was responsible for rebuilding the Turkish bath at the
Newcastle-on-Tyne Infirmary using a system of heating which had just
been patented by John Adams Bolton.
It should also be noted that
Wollaston was not totally disinterested either. His lecture was
part of a local campaign to persuade Cheltenham to build a Turkish bath.
contact us if you know of any references before or after the above
or any other information about
Top of the page