The Charitable Infirmary, which was founded by six surgeons in Cook Street, in 1718, was the first voluntary hospital to open in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII, in 1542, all hospital care for the sick and needy had ceased and the impact of this act was particularly felt among the populous poor of the city of Dublin.
The founding surgeons of the Charitable Infirmary were far-seeing gentlemen who set about protecting their philanthropic ideals from interference. This they did by seeking a charter, the basis of their submission being 'that for many years past the institution had been of great and manifest advantage to the sick and wounded poor of the north parts of Dublin, by supplying them with medical and surgical assistance, medicine and all manner of necessities, without fee or reward'. The charter was granted under the style and title of 'The Governors and Guardians of the Charitable Infirmary, Dublin', on 7th June, 1792 by George Ill. A new charter was granted by George IV in 1820, under which the governors were directed to elect annually by ballot, a committee to govern the Infirmary.
When it was agreed, in 1977, that the Charitable Infirmary should transfer with St. Laurence's Hospital to a new hospital at Beaumont the Managing Committee of the day had to ensure that the altruistic principles of the Hospital's founders would be honoured. In the decade intervening between this decision and the ultimate transfer of most of the facilities in the Charitable Infirmary to Beaumont Hospital in November 1987, the Managing Committee applied itself to establishing a charitable trust to secure the substantial assets of the Hospital and permit the charter to survive, administered as previously by a Managing Committee, elected annually by the Governors. A portion of the Hospital's assets were donated towards the building of a new Drug Treatment Centre at Trinity Court, which opened in October 1988: and on 3rd March, 1989 the High Court declared that the Governors and Guardians of the Charitable Infirmary in Jervis Street should administer 'the proceeds of sale aforesaid and all other monies now or hereafter' to become their property.
The Charitable Infirmary Charitable Trust now subserves functions of which the six doctors, who founded the small hospital in Cook Street, would approve, namely: the provision of medical and related needs for the sick and infirm of Dublin, and the support of medical research, education and training.
The medical and nursing staff of Beaumont Hospital are particularly indebted to the Trust, which, as the institution's main research benefactor, has made possible the substantial research conducted in the Hospital over the years. Almost every department in Beaumont Hospital benefited from support for research that has ultimately helped to alleviate the suffering of illness in many forms. For an account of the history of the Blood Pressure Unit that was established in the Charitable Infirmary in Jervis Street and which ultimately became the ADAPT Centre at Beaumont Hospital see below.
Download Professor Eoin O’Brien's History of The Blood Pressure Unit at the Charitable Infirmary and Beaumont Hospital 1978-2006 in PDF format. Download PDF (137kb)