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The Fever Hospital Abbeyside - 1. Introduction
In the eighteenth century and second half of the nineteenth century, Ireland experienced many epidemics of fever. 1 There was a particularly severe epidemic in 1817-1818. As a result of this, efforts were made to establish fever hospitals in various places throughout the country. A group of people subscribed an amount of money, and then the Grand Jury (equivalent to modern-day Co. Councils) was applied to for a grant, which could be anything up to double the amount originally subscribed. By 1833 there were 70 such fever hospitals in the country.
The fever hospital in Dungarvan was built in 1819, on land owned by the Duke of Devonshire. He also paid a subscription of £25 to Robert Longan, for the Dungarvan dispensary and fever hospital. 2 The hospital could accommodate 42 patients. It was situated on the bank of the tidal estuary of the river Colligan. The Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1844 reported as follows:
The fever hospital stands nearby on the strand, at a part where the latter is wet and broken; it is at all times difficult of access, and can be approached by patients only at low water; it is capable of affording a far more extensive accommodation than can be maintained by the existing funds; and, in 1839, it expended £240, and admitted 75 patients.
On 18 December 1845 the Guardians of the Union decided to take charge of the Dungarvan fever hospital, to be held in future as the Union fever hospital. However this decision was not implemented until the Temporary Fever Act 1846 expired, on 9 August 1846. In February 1847 a second Temporary Fever Act was passed. This provided for the extension of accommodation in the fever hospitals, by means of the erection of temporary dwellings. These could be in the form of wooden sheds, large army tents, or rented houses. In March the Medical Officer converted the stable into fever wards. On 22 April 1847, there was a memorial from the Lord Lieutenant to the Board of Ordnance, requesting the temporary supply of tents for the use of the fever patients. This option however was not recommended to the Dungarvan Board of Guardians by the Central Board of Health. On 29 April the Board decided to build two temporary sheds, 100 ft. long by 16 ft. wide, on the fever hospital grounds at a total cost of £150. These were used for the relief of fever patients from Dungarvan, Abbeyside, and Ballinacourty. The sheds were composed of timber walls and canvas covering, according to the principle that Lord Stuart de Decies had used at Aglish. These sheds could accommodate 100 people, in addition to the 42 in the fever hospital itself. Tenders for the erection of temporary fever sheds, 200 feet in length, on the Workhouse grounds, were also sought.
1. Burke, Helen, The People and the Poor Law in 19th Century Ireland.England 1987.
2. Extracts from ledgers containing rent receipts and disbursements of the estates of William S. Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire 1815 - 1828. N.L.I. ms. 6915 - 6923. 15 August 1825, p.31.
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