Killarney: Killarney Hotel

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Turkish Baths


Turkish baths



Dr Richard Barter (Propr)



Turkish baths opened during, or before, 1859


Turkish baths



Dr Richard Barter (Propr)



It is not known how long the baths remained open


Information taken from sources detailed in the following footnotes: 1, 5




Very little 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.1

He describes the style, general location (near the station, at the end of the town4), 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,2 later reprinted as a pamphlet,3 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 particular baths.

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.


Please contact us if you know of any references before or after the above dates,

or any other information about this establishment.  Many thanks.


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