World within Walls – St. Davnet’s

World within Walls is a project which aims to remember the histories of St. Davnet’s former psychiatric hospital in Monaghan town.

The World Within Walls collection relates the histories and memories of the St. Davnet’s Campus psychiatric hospital in Monaghan town and is part of a wider local history project commissioned and funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and delivered by Stair: An Irish Public History company under the guidance of the HSE World Within Walls project reference group.

The aim of the World Within Walls project is to remember St. Davnet’s history and its evolution from District Asylum in 1869, to psychiatric hospital and now to its present role as a modern community mental health services campus. Since it’s opening many people have lived and worked on the St. Davnet’s site as patients or staff. This collection captures a portion of the memories of these people, with the earliest interview covering what work was like in the 1930s. The collection also tracks the changes that have taken place since this time, reflecting changing attitudes to the treatment of mental health issues.

The World Within Walls collection has been archived at the Irish Qualitative Data Archive and consists of the following:
• interview transcripts from oral history interviews with former patients, staff and key informants
• audio recordings from these oral history interviews (clips)
• an extensive collection of photographs and images that were created and donated during the course of the project
• a number of scanned documents, maps and plans of the hospital and grounds
• support documentation and guidance on using this collection

St. Davnet’s was founded in 1869 and catered for Cavan and Monaghan counties. It was one of many district asylums built throughout Ireland, in the 1800s, to care for those with mental illness. Over its long history, local people and families have been involved with St. Davnet’s in various ways – as patients, as relatives and friends of patients, as staff members and as contractors or suppliers. The site itself, which was in many ways a world within walls, has had a significant impact on the social and economic development of the town. Today, with increasing awareness of mental health and the move towards the provision of mental health services in a community setting, it is fitting that this project takes place to remember and recall the histories of St. Davnet’s in its place and time.

Further information can be found on the website of the Digital Repository of Ireland here.


image oral history website