Tour through Liberties to Dean Swift’s historic St Patricks Mental Hospital | April/May date tba.

Saturday 22nd November, early afternoon, (meeting 12.30pm) a unique history and architecture walk, starting City Hall   (former Royal Exchange) going westward along the areas of Lord Edward Street; Corn-market, Christ Church Place and High Street; Thomas Street; James Street, with occasional diversions into adjoining historic areas in the Liberties, including the sites of St Catherine’s Church, site of Robert Emmet’s execution and of the former medieval Thomas’ Abbey, founded by Henry II in atonement for the death of Thomas Beckett.   But the star of our tour will come towards the end…


Most excitingly  we’ll conclude the tour by special permission with a rare chance to visit the historic St Patrick’s Mental Hospital.


SPMH was founded by the will of Jonathan Swift, legendary satirist and author of Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal.  Swift was the great self-proclaimed compassionate Champion of Liberty, and of Dublin and Ireland’s poor, most marginalized and dispossessed.   Designed by George Semple, opened 1747, his hospital was one of the first of its kind in the world, ground-breaking in its treatment of psychiatric illness.  We visit the library, discuss the architecture and the 18th century institution itself.  We’ll meet and have a talk with the archivist, and visit the untouched  boardroom, with its portraits, of Dean Swift and the two enigmatic women in his life.

Although rarely visited today, the institution is the subject of some of the most famous lines from Swift, written prior to, and anticipating, his own death.

He gave the little Wealth he had,

To build a House for Fools and Mad:
And shew’d by one satyric Touch,
No Nation wanted it so much:

In its totality, the hospital is a monument, to compassion and Enlightenment values.   As we shall discover, the great Dean could have no finer or more fitting legacy.   Join us if you can,  details just below.


Meet Point:  City Hall,  the facade of this historic building fronts onto Dame Street and looks down Parliament Street. but please meet your guide Arran at the (west) side entrance to the City Hall, at Cork Hill, on the side steps to City Hall, near the gates to Upper yard of Dublin Castle.

CITY HALL Royal EXchange Dubllin Map

Meet Time:  Meeting and starting 12.30pm, Saturday 22nd November. We shall tour for approx 2 hours, so please have a hearty brunch prior to walk.  We also tour regardless of weather so please wear suitable clothes and stout footwear!

Fee:  This is a special one-off tour requiring additional work and administration so we are requesting a fee of €25 p/p.   However the following concessions are available.  For “our members”, that’s to say for subscribers to the Dublin Decoded mailing list  – the fee is just €15 p/p.    For unwaged, for job-seekers and/or for students with valid card, fee just €10 p/p.

Booking a place on the tour:   It may be possible to just turn up on the day, but ideally places should be booked a few days before the tour, via a email to

Pay on the day.  No deposits taken, we currently work on a trust system and we’d love to keep it that way, so please, only book a spot if you are certain to attend. Many thanks.

Spread the word, (social media buttons below)  and join us if you can.  We look forward to welcoming you on tour.

Next day:  For those not free Saturday 22nd, unusually we’ve a different tour available the very next day, (this is our last and only other tour of November 2014!)    This Sunday tour will explore the medieval walls and towers of Dublin, including a special treat under the foundations of Dublin Castle.  Please see this link  , for details.

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