Asylum’s Return – St. Kevins Asylum Cork

St Kevins Hospital Cork


St. Kevins abandoned Mental hospital, Cork has to be one of the most powerful buildings I have ever been in.

The below photograph is one of many that still hits me hard every time I see it.

Rest in piece ye poor souls.

Please read on to know more about this building and our experience in there.

Asylum’s Return – St. Kevins Asylum Cork

I have never before in my life felt such a presence radiating from the walls of a building.

Now don’t get me wrong you don’t just walk in here and in a cheesy way say this is spooky or I feel uneasy.

It just starts to slowly starts to soak into you, slowly breath by breath you get an uneasy feeling. This continues to grow on you the longer you are there, this very slight feeling of being watched or not being alone combined with the cold has a compounding effect that builds up in you. Hairs standing on edge, the constant looking over your shoulder it’s as though you know something like the piercing cold breeze is whispering something in your ear as it drifts past.

Again not in a creepy way just a bit unsettling as though the walls want or need to let something out. Again this sounds a bit weird but it’s something that hits you later on then at the time. 

Asylum’s Return – St. Kevins Asylum Cork

This started out as a photography project but rapidly developed into us trying to give a voice to the poor souls that were tortured within these walls. It was all light-hearted and a bit of fun until we actually got there.

We all agreed that we wanted to bring these buildings tragic story back into this modern world again, to help give the silenced a voice.

Countless lives having just been abandoned in here, in horrific conditions that eventually led to it being shamefully shutdown.

From numerous articles, I have read the occupancy of this building seemed to continue to grow without any extensions or extra building work put in place.

Reports of the finally capacity being over four times its original official size still sends a shiver down my spine.

Now just think of that for a second, the building was built to just about adequately house its capacity, to think the capacity then increased to fourfold of what it was meant to house is criminal. 

From locals, you hear of the stories of the gates and railings surrounding the property being erected to just stop people from escaping and throwing themselves into the beautiful river Lee below to put it all to an end. The local stories have it that the lucky ones ended out in the river, utterly shameful.

We had only one mission to tell a story…. this is how it unfolded.

I had three people with me in the shape of two models Michelle and Paulina with our brilliant make-up artist Helena there for some special effects.

30 seconds after stepping foot inside you could already feel the energy oozing from the walls.

Light leaking through the failing roof, scattering shadows and creating shapes across the walls and the debris-ridden floor. With the random sound of horses walking around outside and the odd gust of wind, it made for a very edgy experience. 

A real dark chill could be felt silently tickling through your clothes and slowly seeping deep down into you. The cold in this building is of the type that cuts through you and sinks deep into your bones. I told myself at the time it was probably down to the humidity and the cold nights.

As we were getting ready I walked down into the darkness at the end of the corridor (now sealed off), I stood there in the dark and closed my eyes for 20 seconds in an attempt to feel the mood of the building.

After I opened my eyes the first sight I saw was graffiti on the wall straight in front of me highlighted by a tiny sliver of light saying “End of the line” that single line of text hit me hard at the time.

As I walked back towards the scattered light of the corridor I constantly felt as though we were not alone and the cold seemed to be piercing through my normally very warm jacket even faster. I felt pressure to do this justice and at the same to have respect for what went on before, yes the images needed to grab your attention but they also needed to make a point. Did we over dramatise them well maybe but this is no ordinary place either.

I was already thinking if only these walls could speak they would probably scream a deafening cry for decades to come. Just think of all the tears shed in her and the screams echoed down these halls, some of the screams were never even given a chance of being let out as patients had been gagged to keep them quiet.

I went back to our group and we talked for a few minutes and tried different shots and angles but for me one really connected it told a story through the dark damp walls, the new concrete wall put in place as though to hide or seal this place off, the graffiti “end of the line” which probably sadly summed this building up for thousands of souls, Of course, the fantastic model Michelle with her amazing flexibility pulling off a backbend while keeping a haunting look of despair on her face finished it all off.

Asylum’s Return – St. Kevins Asylum Cork

The entire mood of this image even down to the slight sign of daylight coming through the wall for me personally after having been there couldn’t have been better. The enclosed space the haunting look on Michelle’s face and the thick all surrounding feel of the walls and dense mood of this place.

While this Photograph might give the impression of a reasonably well-lit area it was anything but that after the flash fired you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

I hope this image and the others we took help to give the people who spent their days in here a bit of a voice and maybe carry their story out to the public, we can all be very thankful for our helath and also support others who may be suffering with theirs.

Electroshock treatment was mandatory and believed to be a cure. The idea of constantly increasing the dosage only served to fry the victims brain. Yes, they were quite afterwards but were they now just screaming inside?

After the photoshoot, we had a few amazing experiences from Paulina’s photo which showed someone in a straight jacket at the end of the corridor to Michelle’s car handbrake failing just after her husband said he didn’t believe in Spirits or Ghosts.

The below quote really puts this place in the shameful light it deserves.

Over the years the conditions inside Our Ladys Hospital and St Kevin’s was condemned and declared a total disgrace. The people incarcerated in the asylum were guilty of nothing. Vulnerable, innocent and harmless. They did not deserve what was done to them. Victims of misfortune, victims of illness and indeed, tragically, of abandonment. They were locked up in a vermin-infested, unsanitary, dirty, dark confinement” From the Inspector of Mental Hospitals Report.

This building still lives and breathes by all accounts, several fires have damaged it sadly over the years, I hope one day it can rest.

See you out there,