Turkish baths in asylums

Limerick, Ireland

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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The Turkish Baths at the Limerick Asylum

Plans for a Turkish bath at the Limerick Asylum designed by the local architect, William Fogerty, were already out to tender at the end of 1861, and the bath was operational the following year.

Nothing further is currently known about its design, but since Barter was likely to have been consulted, and the bath at Cork asylum visited, it seems fair to assume that they were more or less similar. It was already standard practice to examine existing baths before building a new one, and Limerick itself was visited in 1871 prior to the construction of the one at Denbigh asylum in Wales.

Not everyone was convinced of the value of Turkish baths in an asylum. After the Limerick bath had been open just a few months, ‘Ratepayer’ wrote to the Freeman’s Journal asking what the benefits had been.

Robert Fitzgerald, the Resident Medical Supervisor, replied that it was a little premature for any detailed findings but his impression was of ‘unmistakable beneficial results’ and, echoing Charles Lockhart Robertson, continued that it was particularly helpful in cases of melancholia and that ‘As to its detergent and ablutionary powers…[it] has no parallel’.

Again, it is not yet known how long the bath was in use, but there is no mention of it in the asylum’s annual report for 1889.

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