Renovation plans for old St Conal’s Hospital

ALMOST three quarters of a million euro is to be spent upgrading St Conal’s Hospital in Letterkenny.

The HSE has advertised for a contractor to carry out extensive works both inside and outside the 19th century building.

These include the replacement of slates with Bangor blue natural slates, repairs to roof and floor timbers, work to eradicate rot and the sandblasting of stone work.


Flat roofs are to be replaced while the hospital’s chimneys are to be repotted and cleaned.

Windows and lintels will also be replaced, repaired and sealed as part of the renovations.

Built at a cost of £37,900, St Conal’s opened as the Donegal District Lunatic Asylum in 1866. At that time it accommodated 300 patients – 150 male and 150 female.

In the 1920s it became the Donegal Mental Hospital before being renamed St Conal’s Hospital in 1956.

Following the introduction of deinstitutionalisation in the late 1980s St Conal’s fell into decline and the main hospital closed in 2010.

Today it serves as an administration centre, an archive facility and for some limited health services.

As it is a protected structure there is a rolling programme of restoration to stop it falling into terminal disrepair. These latest works centre on Block R of the historic structure.


St Conal’s as it once looked. Photo source: Asylum Projects/Facebook

The HSE told the Donegal News that €0.71 million has been set aside for the latest phase of upgrades.

A spokesperson said yesterday, “Capital and Estates, HSE North West are continuing a phased programme of upgrade works to retain and repair the existing structures of the St Conal’s campus which is a protected structure.

“Approval of €0.71m was received for the next priority of the works in 2022 which include upgrading of the roof, windows, refurbishment to the external render as well as internal refurbishment works.

“This block accommodates administration offices, domestic stores, dental services and archive storage facilities over ground and first floor.”

Impact on existing services will be minimal during construction which is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2023 and will last six months. Contractors have been told that the general public uses St Conal’s on a regular basis either to avail of services or for leisurely walking.

The HSE added: “The recent completion of works to another block has seen improvements for staff and patients together with the visual improvement to the exterior of the building.

“Some of the works completed included the replacing of cement render, cleaning paint off brickwork, repairs to sliding sash windows. This has given the staff and patients an improved environment to frequent and work and the front facade a new positive image while retaining its historical integrity.”


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