St Ita’s Demesne

St Ita’s Demesne

Photo credit: St Ita’s Portrane courtesy of Mick Mongey

In April 1884, 461 acres of the Evans’ lands including Mount Evans (Portrane House) were put up for auction. James Considine, a Clare landowner bought the house and lands and in turn, sold it on some seven years later to the Governing Board of Lunatic Asylums in Ireland for £10,000. In 1892, due to the chronic overcrowding, it was decided that an auxiliary hospital was needed to supplement the Richmond District Asylum. Portrane Demesne was determined to be the most suitable location and Portrane Mental Asylum was built between 1896 and 1903. At the time of construction this was the largest building contract ever granted to a single contractor in Ireland. The first patients were moved to Portrane in 1898 and were housed in Portrane House. These were female patients and numbered at 64. During the 20th century St Ita’s, which had 2,000 patients and over 300 live-in staff had a full range of services on site including a bakery, a butcher, a tailor, a hairdresser, a laundry, a shoe-repair service, and a fire station. Food was produced from the 300 acres of farmland and gardens, as a form of occupational therapy for patients, and there was also a dairy. The complex also included an Anglican Chapel and Catholic Church, a morgue, and burial ground. Towards the turn of the 21st century the number of patients housed in St Ita’s dramatically reduced and large parts of the original building complex fell into disuse. By 2013, there were no patients in the original buildings, some of which were in use for administrative purposes. Today the former St Ita’s Hospital Complex and Portrane Demesne is a designated Architectural Conservation Area and the site of the National Forensic Mental Health Service.

Portrane Asylum

Above: Perspective plan of Portrane Asylum, Irish Builder supplement, 15 July 1900

Did you know….

St. Ita's Hospital was a location for the final sequences of the movie The Butcher Boy  (1997) by Neil Jordan.

Find out more

Portrane Demesne Architectural Conservation Area Statement of Character 04/St%20Itas%20ACA%20Final%20Version%20Dec2013.pdf 



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