Book review: Asylum an insightful look into the good and bad of a place hidden in plain sight

Professor Brendan Kelly’s excellent new book about the Grangegorman psychiatric facility is full of humanity and brings the life stories of individual patients from different periods into focus

Asylum: Inside Grangegorman: Prof Brendan Kelly’s book steers through two centuries of psychiatric care in Ireland, covering the often murky process of admission to the hospital, the daily lives of patients and staff and the changing attitudes and treatments throughout the 20th century

For an institution that has existed since 1814, when it opened under its original name as the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, and which under various names (it became Grangegorman Mental Hospital in 1925 and St Brendan’s Hospital in 1958) played a huge role in Dublin life, little has been written about the psychiatric facility simply known to generations of Dubliners as Grangegorman.

Indeed, although it was primarily a place of respite under the care of doctors, ...