"Vision", declared Dean Jonathan Swift, "is the art of seeing
things invisible." Over 250 years ago, he saw what nobody else seemed to
notice, that the psychiatrically ill were neglected and abused and that what
was needed was a place, a properly designed, administered, staffed and funded
hospital where they would he protected and treated. That combination of vision,
compassion, energy and will to provide the best and most effective diagnostic
and treatment approaches available and to foster positive attitudes to psychiatric
illness is what inspires and motivates his hospital to this day.
As Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Swift's desire to improve conditions
for the oppressed, the poor and the alienated grew. These concerns became the
blueprint for a dedicated psychiatric hospital free of the abuses of the institutions
at the time with an independent board of governors which would protect patients
and safeguard the hospital's ongoing development and improvement.
On October the 19th 1745 the venerable and sick Dean died, leaving his entire
estate, derived from royalties of his writings including his great satirical
work, Gulliver's Travels, for the founding of a hospital for the psychiatrically
ill, the first in Ireland. The hospital was granted a Royal Charter by George
II on August 8th 1746. One of its earliest governors, a treasurer to the board
and visiting state physician to the hospital was Dr Robert Emmet, father of
St Patrick's was built by architect George Semple following Dean Swift's detailed
and painstaking instructions. It is now the oldest, purpose built psychiatric
hospital continuously functioning on its original site in these islands and
one of the oldest in the world.