Friday 23 February 2018

Medb Ruane: Misery isn't a strong enough word for the conditions in our mental health institutions

The writer Peig Sayers ground more than a few scholars into the earth, but her story about madness still flies. She tells of a time before asylums and hospitals when a sheltered oasis between Dingle and Tralee gave respite to the sad.

The valley of Gleann na nGealt was a no-questions-asked place where you were free to feel pain for as long as you had to, without being pressured to fit the everyday world. A romantic vista of how old Ireland dealt with suffering, probably, but tolerant too, in giving people time and space to recover.

Time and space were missing spectacularly from Prime Time's picture of psychiatric institutions this week. Misery didn't even name the dereliction Miriam O'Callaghan found when she journeyed through some hospitals.

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