Emigration leads to growth in lunacy
Dublin, 13 August 1915 - The number of cases of lunacy in Ireland increased by 171 in the past year.
This figure, according to the Annual Report of the Inspectors of Lunacy in Ireland, brings the total number of ‘insane under care’ to some 25,180.
This is almost double the number of ‘insane under care’ in 1880 - something made all the more remarkable by the fact that the population of Ireland actually declined by approximately 800,000 people over the same period.
It is claimed that emigration - reputed to take away the young and healthy, leaving the old and infirm behind - is the principal cause for the growth in lunacy. Many insane persons who were previously retained at home by their relatives are now placed by them in asylums. Another contributing factor is the dramatic improvement in the condition and care provided by district lunatic asylums.
In this vein, the quality of care provided to lunatics may serve to prolong life and thereby swell the numbers further.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]