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Further growth of lunacy in Ireland
An extract from the Sixty-Second Annual Report of the Inspectors of Lunatics (Ireland), June 1913 Photo: National Library of Ireland

Further growth of lunacy in Ireland

One in 154 Irish people are described as a 'lunatic and idiot'

Published: 19 July 1913

One in every 154 people was described as a ‘lunatic and idiot’ in the 1911 Census, according to the annual report of the Inspectors of Lunacy in Ireland which has been laid before the House of Commons in London. The county with the highest ratio of ‘lunatics and idiots’ per head of population was Waterford with a ratio of 1 in 104, while the ratio in Antrim was 1 in 250. The report noted that the number of men and women confined in lunatic asylums in Ireland had increased by 184 during 1912. This came on top of an increase in 1911 of 261 and an average increase across the previous decade of 300 people per year.

The continued increases in the numbers in lunatic asylums means that by 1st January 1913 there were 12,868 men and 11,787 women confined. Included in this number were the residents of the State Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Dundrum, Co. Dublin. A total of 141 men and 21 women were held in that asylum, a decrease of six patients on the previous year.

The insane in Ireland 1861-1911: An extract from the Sixty-Second Annual Report of the Inspectors of Lunatics (Ireland), published in June 1913

During 1912 there were 22 admissions to the Criminal  Lunatic Asylum. This figure included nine prisoners who became insane while serving prison sentences and were transferred out to Dundrum. The remainder of the people classed as ‘lunatics and idiots’ ‘reside in their own homes, or with relatives, or are wandering at large.’ The number of people who can be placed in this later category is put at around 14 per cent.

In the Waterford Lunatic Asylum, the Visiting Governor’s Report noted that there was an average of 625 residents (331 men, 294 women) in the asylum across the year. During 1912, 76 people had been admitted, consisting of 35 cases of mania, 25 cases of melancholia, 5 cases of dementia, 7 cases of delusional insanity, and 4 alcohol-related cases. The general tenor of the report was that the residents in Waterford were well-fed and well-cared for.


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.