Abandoned ireland


St Ann’s Hydropathic Establishment,

Co. Cork.

Documenting our Heritage

Dr Richard Barter became interested in water as a treatment for ill health after the cholera epidemic of 1832. Later after attending a lecture in Cork given by Captain Claridge he became interested in hydropathy and went on to visit England to study the system in practice at Malvern by Dr Wilson and Dr Gully.

Despite opposition from his colleagues, Dr Barter opened his Hyrdopathic Establishment on St Ann’s Hill, close to Blarney in 1843. Originally consisting of a Russian bath, Dr Barter invited David Urquhart to visit St Ann’s to help him establish a Turkish bath for his patients after reading Urquharts book "The Pillars of Hercules".

The first Turkish bath was constructed in a small beehive shaped thatched building, however this proved to be a failure as the air inside the bath was not heated sufficiently. Barter however persevered and sent his nephew to Rome to study the ruins of Roman baths. On 5 June 1856 the Urquharts were among the 300 guests at the laying of the foundation stone for a new Turkish bath at St Ann’s. On completion of the new Turkish bath, Dr Barter became aware that the baths were too humid to be of medical benefit as the necessary heat could only be tolerated by the human body if it was a dry heat. Barter went on to successfully build a new bath. In 1859 he took out a patent relating to the the construction of the 'Improved Turkish Bath'. Thanks to Dr Barter, in many parts of Europe even today the Turkish bath is known as the Irish-Roman bath.

In 1886, Guy's Postal Directory of Cork lists that the Hydropathic Establishment once had a circulating library, a reading room, covered tennis courts, three grass tennis courts, a theatre, an American bowling alley, a billiard room for both ladies and gentlemen. The Establishment promoted itself as a residence for invalids and accommodation for tourists to the region.

Dr Barter went on to become the owner or at least associated with ten further establishments in Ireland, though none were as successful as St Ann's.

Dr Barter died on the 3rd October 1870 at the age of 67.  Members of the Barter family continued operating the Hyropathic Establishment at St Ann's until it was sold in 1952.

Today, all that remains of the Hydropathic Establishment is a few forgotten scattered ruins.

For further information on Victorian Baths:-


Co. Cork.