Supporting Local News

Final curtain falls for former St Brigid’s psychiatric hospital

The curtain seems set to come down over the coming months on a mental health institution in Galway with a troubled and chequered history dating back to the 1830s.

St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe – closed down since 2013 – is set to be disposed of by the HSE in different parts, it emerged at last week’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.

Established in 1833 and previously known as the Connacht Asylum, the Ballinasloe District Asylum and Ballinasloe Mental Hospital, the HSE is ‘working through some steps to prepare the property for disposal’.

In reply to a query from local councillor, Evelyn Parsons, who sought an update on the vacating of the buildings at the St. Brigid’s site, the HSE confirmed that they had identified ‘various properties’ within the campus that were ‘surplus/available property’.

Joe Hoare, Assistant National Director, Capital & Estates (HSE), told Cllr Parsons in a written reply, said that the sale of four acres at the site to the Department of Education for the provision of new school accommodation had been agreed.

However, Mr Hoare also pointed out that the HSE would be retaining health facilities currently in operation at the site, as well as elements of land for potential future use and development.

He added that ‘this would likely include’ a potential development site for a proposed new Primary and Ambulatory Care Centre (same day assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients without hospital admission) in the context of the new Enhanced Community Care programme.

“The remaining surplus lands and buildings – including the old hospital buildings – are to be disposed of. In order for the HSE to dispose of the former mental health buildings and land identified as surplus to requirements, the HSE is working through some steps to prepare the property for disposal.

“This has recently included decanting [transfer] of some remaining mental health services. There are some further services to be decanted along with the preparation, rectification of title/folios maps and decommissioning of utility services.

“It is hoped to commence work on a strategy for disposal of the site before the end of this year,” stated Mr Hoare.

The HSE ‘site disposal’ confirmation has been welcomed by Cllr Parsons who said that this was long-awaited news for Ballinasloe and at last ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’.

“It is extremely welcome to finally hear the emergence of a timeline – something we did not have before. After a long information vacuum it is great now to be regularly briefed on progress, ” said Cllr Parsons.

She added that she welcomed the statement from Breda Crehan Roche, Chief of Community Healthcare West, that the HSE sees Ballinasloe as the ideal location for an Enhanced Community Care Hub linking to the children disability network.

“I hope we will soon have confirmed positive news regarding the location of an Enhanced Community Care hub in Ballinasloe which is an ideal location and plays to our local strengths in health services and health care in the community,” said Cllr Parsons.

According to an Irish Times report by Rosita Boland earlier this year, in 1951, the town of Ballinasloe had a population of 5,596, while at the same time there were 2,078 ‘resident patients’ in St. Brigid’s Hospital.

The deinstitutionalisation of psychiatric hospitals [treating patients in a community or general hospital setting] led to the closure of specialised psychiatric hospitals in Ireland through the late 1990s and early 2000s. All patients are now treated through the community or in designated units in the general hospital system.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up