Spanish flu, women’s suffrage and St. Joseph’s Hospital among topics covered by Limerick Archives talk

  • Limerick Archives Talk

The Spanish Flu, Women’s Suffrage, the First World War and St. Joseph’s Hospital will be among the topics discussed at a centenary event being held by Limerick Archives on Thursday 28 June in St. Mary’s Cathedral at 7.30pm.

As part of the Decade of Centenaries, the event will include an in-depth examination of the impact of Spanish Flu on the city in 1918.

The 1918 pandemic killed almost 100 million people around the world, and in six months infected some 800,000 people in Ireland and killed about 23,000.

Limerick was also heavily affected by the virus, with a broad number of fatalities in the area.

The impact of the pandemic on St. Joseph’s Hospital will be detailed as well, which was a relatively safe place to be from infection. The number of people who died from the flu in the asylum was actually far less than the local and national average.

World War I will also be highlighted, as St. Joseph’s asylum saw a new wave of patients being admitted who were declared ‘shell-shocked.’

Renowned historian Sinead McCoole will also look at the topic of women’s suffrage, with the national movement gaining huge popularity during that year.

Limerick City and County Archivist Jacqui Hayes said: “1918 was a chaotic time for the people of Limerick, and our experts will provide a lot of information that people may never have heard of. The Spanish Flu pandemic was a sad chapter in Limerick’s history, and some of our own records on the Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery show that there were a number of fatalities locally.”

“The records on St. Joseph’s Hospital also give an insight into how the asylum dealt with these unfortunate soldiers who may not have been a part of the 1,000 casualties that Limerick suffered, but came home traumatised. Luckily, our speakers will be able to tell the soldiers’ stories for the first time. We will also hear about how the women’s suffrage movement gained traction, as a number of high-profile women spoke out for their individual rights.”

Speakers on the night will include Sinead McCoole, Margaret Buckley, Dr Peter Kirwan, and Stuart Clancy.

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Treaty Stone Limerick. Photo Piotr Machowczyk