Cork Street Fever Hospital and Cherry Orchard Hospital Papers

Repository: Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleCork Street Fever Hospital and Cherry Orchard Hospital Papers
Archive ReferenceIE RCPI/CSFH
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1801-2005
Extent Medium126 boxes


Creator(s): Cork Street Fever Hospital, Cherry Orchard Hospital

  • Administrative History ↴

    The House of Recovery and Fever Hospital on Cork Street, Dublin, had its origins in meetings of a group of wealthy and philanthropic men drawn from Anglican and Quaker congregations in October 1801. Dublin, as elsewhere in Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, possessed conditions that ensured an abundance of infectious diseases. Those present at the meetings in October 1801 had a clear idea of the nature and scale of such health issues, stating that " adequate Hospital accommodation has hitherto been provided for the relief of the Sick poor of Dublin afflicted with fever (especially such as may be of a contagious Nature)'. Influenced by a fever hospital movement in Britain, the provisional Committee believed that the solution lay in the 'establishment of a House of Recovery to which patients on the first appearance of Fever might be removed". Less than three years later, on 14 May 1804, the newly-erected House of Recovery and Fever Hospital on Cork Street admitted its first batch of patients. As its name suggests, the hospital separated the sick from convalescents by the construction of two buildings 116 feet apart in an early attempt at infection control. The erection of such purpose-built buildings was intentional, as the hospital's founders were influenced by prevailing theories regarding control of infectious diseases. In the early decades of the hospital's existence its catchment area expanded from the Dublin Liberties to the whole of the city. Hospital buildings were extended to meet admissions triggered by regular epidemics which ravaged the poorest districts in the city. A fever epidemic in 1817-1819 and further outbreaks of typhus and cholera in the 1820s and 1830s placed severe strain on hospital resources. In 1847 tents were erected and 400 emergency beds provided to allow for the admission of patients suffering from a typhus outbreak, which had been stimulated in large part by the influx into Dublin of thousands of famine-stricken refugees from the countryside. In the 1860s and 1870s epidemics of smallpox resulted in overcrowding and a record case fatality of 20.78%, recorded in 1878. In the last few decades of the century measles, typhoid, scarlet fever and smallpox predominated, prompting the hospital governors to build the 'Red House' on the grounds of Cork Street, and to open an auxiliary hospital for convalescents at Beneavin, Finglas. In 1891 hospital reports recorded diphtheria for the first time, a disease which became a significant health problem in the early twentieth century with the arrival in Dublin of the virulent 'gravis' strain. The early twentieth century witnessed significant changes at Cork Street. In 1904 the hospital was granted a Royal Charter, in which Dr John Marshall Day was designated first Medical Superintendent. In 1936 the Dublin Fever Hospital Act changed the hospital from voluntary to municipal control, and sought to "make provision for the establishment of a new fever hospital in or near the city of Dublin and for the closing of the House of Recovery and Fever Hospital, Cork Street, Dublin". Planning for the development of a new hospital was long and protracted, however, and the Second Word War and a 1944 sworn inquiry into alleged maladministration in the hospital contributed to delays. Led by the efforts of Dr Day's successor as Medical Superintendent, Dr C.J. McSweeney, a 74-acre site was finally secured at Blackditch, Palmerstown, Co. Dublin, and building tenders received in early 1950. The hospital board decided that as the name Blackditch evoked images of plague and death, the address of the new hospital should be changed to Cherry Orchard. In November 1953, patients and staff vacated the premises at Cork Street and moved to the new House of Recovery and Dublin Fever Hospital, Cherry Orchard. The early years of the new hospital witnessed high numbers of admissions of patients, with poliomyelitis, diphtheria, measles, and tuberculous meningitis predominating. By the 1970s and 1980s, however, immunisation programmes had greatly reduced the incidences of these illnesses. Although admissions to Cherry Orchard remained high through to the 1990s, peaking in 1982, infectious diseases were in decline. Services were therefore broadened to include psychiatric services, palliative care, drug rehabilitation services, care for the elderly, care for people who were HIV positive, and care for chronic young disabled people. In 2002, the wards were closed to acute infectious diseases.
  • Archival History ↴

    The Cork Street Fever Hospital and Cherry Orchard Hospital Papers were donated to the Royal College of Physicians in July 2013.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Cork Street Fever Hospital, Cherry Orchard Hospital ↴

    Records in this collection range in date from 1801 to 2005, spanning the entire existence of Cork Street Fever Hospital (1801-1953) and over five decades of its successor institution at Cherry Orchard. Many individual items and files range across time periods covered by both hospitals.

    Records in this collection include:

    – a run of minute books from 1801 to 1961 (with a gap of fourteen years between 1828 and 1842),
    – annual reports (which often include medical reports),
    – reports of Medical Superintendents, other hospital staff, and health authorities
    – staff and student records
    – a small amount of correspondence and other administrative records
    – records relating to hospital finances and domestic supplies
    – Medical Superintendents’ papers, dating mainly from Dr Christopher Joseph McSweeney’s time in the position (1934-1953)
    – some patient records, including a short run of patient registers between 1924 and 1948
    – files relating to hospital events and the history of Cork Street Fever Hospital and Cherry Orchard Hospital
    – records relating to governing statutes of Cork Street Fever Hospital and legislation
    – records relating to the buildings and premises of Cork Street and Cherry Orchard, including architectural drawings of new buildings
    – records relating to Local Government Inquiries in 1937 and 1944.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection has been divided into eight series based on record type or subject. Within these series, records are further sub-divided and are arranged chronologically.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Access subject to the conditions laid out in the RCPI Heritage Centre Access Guidelines
Conditions Governing ReproductionCopying of archive material is subject to the conditions laid out in the RCPI Heritage Centre Copying Guidelines
Creation Dates1801-2005
Extent Medium126 boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids The collection list is available in the reading room or online Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteFergus Brady
Rules/ConventionsIGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009. ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997.
Date of Descriptions42064