Histories of Grangegorman Site and Society, 1770-2012

The growing interest in the institutional history of Ireland from the eighteenth to the twentieth century charts the political and social preoccupation with confinement as cure for social deprivations across those centuries. While institutions operated by religious orders have dominated research and discourse in this area in recent times, scrutiny of state-run institutions offer an opportunity to broaden the discourse and examine the material, social and architectural histories of these spaces.

Grangegorman was the site of three such institutions: the North Dublin Union Workhouse (originally the Dublin House of Industry), the Richmond Lunatic Asylum (later the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum, the Grangegorman Mental Hospital and St Brendan’s Hospital) and the Richmond Penitentiary (later the Grangegorman Female Penitentiary and Transportation Depot). The histories of the location –architectural, social and medical– provide a crux case study of institutional experiences across two centuries, with the opportunity to research the physical development of these institutions over time. A study of the Grangegorman site and its immediate surrounding area, from 1770 to 2012, provides an excellent test case to examine how changing attitudes to the social role of institutionalisation inform, and are mediated through, architectural and landscape design.

This research will draw on visual, architectural, and archival sources to provide material evidence of the lived experience of the institutional site and its environs. This will include an examination of building fabric, interiors, service-buildings, garden design and the design of open space and infrastructure. By bringing together high and low, public and domestic cultures, a fuller picture will emerge of the institutions and their legacy in the locality.

Having keen regard to the ethical dimensions of such an investigation, this research will provide insights into the cultural history of a unique urban landscape, the architectural and built environment of these institutions, and how evolving ideas about moral management were manifested in their design, construction, adaptation, and use.

Student requirements:

  • At least a 2.1 primary degree in the areas of history, design or architecture, public history and/or histories of architecture, landscape, urban design, visual culture or cognate disciplines.
  • Familiarity with reading and interpreting architectural and engineering drawings, specifications and mapping is highly desirable.
  • Excellent communication and writing skills.
  • Familiarity with archival research.
  • An interest in, and curiosity to work on, histories of confinement, institutional history and social context.
  • Commitment to the highest standards of ethical practice in academic research.
  • An interest in creative modes of dissemination.

The position is fully funded for 48 months.

The application deadline is 7 July 2023.

More information can be found here.

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