The long planned new children’s hospital has hit another snag with its planned site at St James Hospital, as archaeologists have discovered a mass burial site in the grounds.
The site was originally held a workhouse and a fever hospital, and was used as a mass burial ground for paupers in the 17th and 18th century.
Archaeologists feel this is a site of significant historical importance and want to examine the findings closely, which could severely delay further work on the hospital.
An Taisce Heritage Officer Ian Lumley explained that it’s uncertain if these potential remains will hamper development.
“I would expect the burial to be at the west end of the site, but it’s simply not known exactly where it was. Fever burials were a very common thing but there would be no bone remains,” he said.
“It may well transpire that the areas affected are already built on, or there could be a car park over the site.”
The new hospital, which is still seeking planning permission, aims to open by 2019, and will contain 384 inpatient beds and 85 day care beds.
It will unite the three existing children’s hospitals - Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght Hospital – with the aim of delivering world class paediatric care to Dublin.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board has released a statment on the archaeological study of the new children's hospital site:
"The Development Board for the new children’s hospital and St James’s Hospital can confirm that an Environmental Impact Study – which included an Archaeology Report - found no evidence of a grave or any other features of archaeological significance."
"These findings were consolidated by further geotechnical surveys (Boreholes, Trial pits and Geophysics) recently carried out by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board in preparation for the development of the new children’s hospital and no evidence of graves or other archaeological features were encountered. An archaeological report will be issued as part of the Environmental Impact Study for the new children’s hospital at planning application stage."
"In relation to recent calls for a commemoration, a commemorative stone dedicated to famine victims and any potential unmarked graves on the whole of the St James’s campus is located on the eastern side of the campus. The Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke unveiled this stone marker, adjacent to the location of the former workhouse buildings, in July 2014."