From “Sound Walls, Unsound People” by Betty Ryan-O’Gorman. This is an extract from Betty’s account of growing up by a psychiatric hospital. In the full piece in the magazine she describes the reforms introduced by Dr Blake and the improvements he made to the lives of the patients at the hospital.
Our house was directly opposite the main gates of St. Dympna’s. When I was a child I could hear the male patients roaring and shouting during the night. I would lie awake in bed, wondering and worrying about the reason for their cries. Why was nothing being done to alleviate their pain or what was causing their suffering? I dreaded hearing them. I’d cover my head with the bedclothes to try to block out the horrendous sounds.
Once I heard the sound of pounding feet on the concrete road. I looked out the window and saw two keepers pursuing and catching up with a man who was evidently a patient. They held him very firmly by each arm and forced him back along the road. The patient was wearing big boots without laces and the metal segs in the heels made sparks fly as he dug in his heels trying to resist. That horrific scene will never leave my memory, much as I have tried to erase it.
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