Dublin Orphans and Destitute Children

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837


The associations for the relief and protection of orphans and destitute children are numerous. The Foundling Hospital, a very extensive establishment in James-street, for the reception of infants of this description from all parts of Ireland, for many years afforded an asylum to 2000 deserted children within its walls, and to nearly 5000 who were kept at nurse in the country till of age to be admitted into the central establishment; these children were clothed, maintained, educated, and apprenticed from the funds of the hospital, which were assisted by annual parliamentary grants of from £20,000 to £30,000. The internal departments were wholly closed by order of government on the 31st of March, 1835, and all the children who are not apprenticed, amounting to 2541, are at present settled with nurses in the country. There are also about 2800 apprentices serving their time as servants and to trades, who are still under the superintendence of the governors.

The buildings, which are very extensive, contain schoolrooms for both sexes, dormitories, a chapel, and accommodations for several resident officers, and attached to it is a large garden, in the cultivation of which the older inmates assist. In addition to the Blue Coat, Royal Hibernian, and Royal Marine Institutions, already noticed under the heads of their respective public establishments, -the following are peculiarly worthy of notice:—The Female Orphan House was commenced in 1790 by Mrs. Edward Tighe and Mrs. Este, and, owing in a great measure to the advocacy of the celebrated Dean Kirwan, who preached a succession of sermons for its support, was opened in the present buildings on the North Circular Road, which contain ample accommodations for 160 children and a large episcopal chapel.

The candidates for admission must be destitute both of father and mother, and between the age of five and ten; the inmates receive an education suited to fit them for the higher class of domestic servants. Its funds are aided by a parliamentary grant equal to the sum voluntarily contributed. The Freemasons' Orphan School, under the patronage of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, provides for the orphan daughters of deceased members of the Society. Pleasants' Asylum, Camden-street, opened in 1818 by means of a bequest of the late T. Pleasants, Esq., receives 20 Protestant female orphans, who are maintained and educated till they arrive at years of maturity, when they are entitled to a respectable portion on marrying a Protestant, approved of by the trustees.

The special objects of the Protestant Orphan Society, founded in 1828, and the Protestant Orphan Union, formed subsequently, appear from their names; the latter owes its origin to the ravages of the cholera, which also gave rise to three other societies for the reception of children of every religious persuasion, who had been deprived of their parents by that dreadful scourge. Most of the places, of worship in Dublin have boarding-schools attached to them for boys or girls, or both, into which orphans are admitted in preference.

In this department of charitable institutions may be included the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb at Claremont, near Glasnevin, which, from small beginnings, is now adapted to the reception of more than 100 inmates, who are wholly maintained, clothed, and instructed; the boys, after school hours, are occupied in gardening, farming, and other mechanical works; and the girls in needlework, housewifery, laundry work, and in the management of the dairy; a printing-press has been purchased for the instruction of some of the boys in that business, and for the printing of lessons adapted to the use of the pupils. The building contains separate schoolrooms for male and female pupils: attached to it are about 19 acres of land. This institution is wholly supported by subscription and private benefactions; it has various branch establishments in different parts of the country.

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