This month marks the 30th anniversary of the closure of the North Infirmary hospital, the first general hospital to be opened in Cork which treated patients for centuries until its closure on November 26, 1987.
This celebrated structure, almost 300 years old, played a part in the lives of every family in Cork throughout its long tenure.
Opened in 1720, built on the site of the St Mary’s Church that was destroyed during the Siege of Cork in 1690, the hospital held a significance in the hearts of Cork people.
“It will always be a big part of the history and landscape of Cork City,” said Lord Mayor of Cork city, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald.
“It was a huge loss and a very emotional time for everyone when it closed down and I think it is still remembered by many people to this day.” This decision to close was greeted with disbelief at the time as thousands took to the streets in protest.
Twelve thousand black-edged mortuary cards were distributed and protesters carried posters stating ‘Keep our hospital operating’ and ‘Don’t make our hospital a casualty’.
The last patient, 82-year-old Mary McCarthy, left the building by wheelchair and was driven by ambulance to St Patrick’s Hospital.
The Butter Exchange Band and Shandon bells played a duet of Old Lang Syne as two thousand people, each with a lighting candle, looked on while the lights were slowly switched off from the top to the ground floor.
An iconic building in the history and skyline of the city, the hospital was surrounded by a number of fascinating mementos of Cork’s colourful past from a religious, historical and political viewpoint.
Former Taoiseach and Cork GAA legend Jack Lynch was born nearby.
Annie Moore, the first passenger to arrive at Ellis Island in 1892, hailed from nearby Rowland’s lane.
The Infirmary was also at the forefront of some of Ireland and Cork’s most historic events.
In 1832, the city suffered a severe cholera outbreak and the North Infirmary staff responded brilliantly.
The building was then turned into a fever hospital during the great famine in 1847 and In World War I, the nuns’ great work was awarded the Red Cross from King George V.
“I’d like to pay tribute to all the nuns and workers who gave so much to the hospital throughout its time,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.
“In particular, the Daughters of Charity deserve tremendous praise for making it such a caring place, not just in terms of health and well being, but in a homely sense.”
“It played a huge part in the history of Cork city and the wider county,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.
“The hospital made a contribution to people’s lives, particularly on the northside that will never be forgotten,” he added.