Patrick Quinlan is an architect with both a lifelong personal interest in historic buildings and a masters qualification in architectural conservation. He is a past recipient of a Dissertation Commendation at the international RIBA. He has just commenced a PhD at Birkbeck, University of London, where he will be examining the stigma and significance associated with former asylum sites in Ireland.
Ireland was not unique in creating and perpetuating an institutional response to insanity, but did enjoy the dubious distinction of having, by 1950s, the world's highest number of psychiatric beds per capita. Social and medical historians have posited various theories for this, but to date none have examined the spaces and landscapes created to facilitate this spectacular expansion in institutional provision. The research on which this book is based reveals the meaning and significance of the architectural and landscape legacy from the inception of the asylum system to its extinction, in the context of an evolving political, social, medical and economic climate.The research reveals a rich typology - from the earliest structures which embodied Enlightenment theories and pioneering approaches to treatment within their very fabric, through impressive architectural set-pieces designed by the leading architects of the era, to enormous receptacles of the hopeless which demonstrated technical ingenuity in addressing the challenges of accommodating historically unprecedented numbers of people in a single building. Most were set within designed landscapes which attest to the original curative aspirations of the institution.
'Visiting these places, majestic, imperious, brooding, it is impossible not to be awestruck by their scale, their complexity, their embodiment of societies in microcosm. But most powerful of all is the profound emptiness of spaces which resonate with the memories of thousands of lives lived under an institutional regime which outlived and outgrew the ideals on which it was founded. And whether the future of Ireland’s empty asylums holds fiery destruction, prolonged limbo or glorious resurrection, I hope that this publication will encourage communities to look again at these buildings which our forefathers built with such solidity to express the notions of their day, and appreciate them in all of their complex, contradictory grandeur.'
Patrick Quinlan writing in the Irish Times
Read the full article here
'STANDING proudly in its own grounds at Mulgrave Street, St Joseph's Hospital is a landmark building on the edge of the city.
Now architect and historian Patrick Quinlan has uncovered a fascinating history of the facility which includes tales of its earliest patients escaping and "nocturnal sorties by unmarried colleagues"'.
Read the full fascinating piece in the Limerick Leader here