Doctor Atkins, District Asylum

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Where: Waterford, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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A stream of irreverent thoughts came into my head when I saw the title to this shot from Poole! Is he perhaps an inmate or the attendant? Does he make "Dr. Atkins Patented Nerve Powders for Lunatic conditions"? No doubt the esteemed Dr. was a healer who laboured to bring solace to those with mental illness but who was he and what asylum did he work at?

And we have answers to all our questions. The consensus is that this is Dr Ringrose Atkins, the Resident Medical Superintendent of Waterford District Asylum (an institution we have visited before). Dr Atkins was from a Cork family (which apparently included several generations of medical professionals), and he was appointed to the position in Waterford in 1878. Evidently he was also president of the YMCA and involved in the temperance movement. He died in his late 40s from complications arising from appendicitis. Given that the 1898 edition of the Journal of Psychiatry records his death as occuring that February, it seems we'll need to tweak the catalogue date range for this image.....

Photographer: A. H. Poole

Collection: Poole Photographic Studio, Waterford

Date: Catalogue range c.1901-1954. Though possibly c.1890s.

NLI Ref: POOLEWP 0678b

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 21322
ahpoole arthurhenripoole glassnegative nationallibraryofireland dratkins lunaticasylum mentalhospital waterford asylum districtasylum atkins ringroseatkins residentmedicalsuperintendent waterforddistrictlunaticasylum probablecataloguecorrection ymca poolephotographiccollection

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    • 11/Aug/2017 09:08:49

    We had a visit to the Waterford District Lunatic Asylum before - ... and there is Dr Ringrose Atkins in the centre (see note)

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    • 11/Aug/2017 09:51:17

    Atkins was Medical Superintendent. He died in 1898, aged 47 (

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    • 11/Aug/2017 10:14:15

    Red Herring - there was a relative(?) John Ringrose Atkins, born in Dublin (1851-1908) who lived in Australia and worked in the theatre as 'Dan Barry'- .

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    • 11/Aug/2017 11:45:59

    hard to read, but he died of a perforated appendix and a kidney stone, after two days of suffering. First had symptoms while "visiting a lady". President of the YMCA and came from a family of doctors.

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    • 11/Aug/2017 11:53:28

    Apparently you've got a copy of his obituary.

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    • 11/Aug/2017 16:41:44

    Superb detail, great quality portrait.

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    • 11/Aug/2017 19:35:21

    Here's an obit extract. From the British Journal of Psychiatry of April 1898 (pages 455-456). Suggests that the image was taken before the proposed catalogue date range. Could perhaps have been a copy/reprint. If so, seems likely would have been copied early/mid 1898. Perhaps for memorial cards or obit entries in local press. From the Atkins family of Cork apparently. I've known some people named Ringrose - though normally as a family name. (EDIT - [] linked the same extract earlier. Hadn't realised the BJP made their journal archive available. Would've saved myself an archive trawl :) )

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 11/Aug/2017 22:14:58

    Thanks all! I've updated the date range and description. And, while this is almost certainly a studio portrait, have mapped it to the asylum/hospital location (as it just seems more fitting). Have a great weekend all!

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    • 12/Aug/2017 00:29:03

    He did a great job of sitting still. The detail is superb. Love the history.

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    John Spooner

    • 12/Aug/2017 12:39:52

    The London Times reported on the National Temperance Congress on Oct 23 1889, including:

    Dr Ringrose Atkins, M.A., of Waterford, sent a paper, which was read by Mr J. J. Ritchie, on "The morbid histology of the nervous system in chronic alcoholism."

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 21/Aug/2017 09:00:07

    nicely framed

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    • 18/Jan/2018 07:06:12

    Ringrose first came into the Atkins line with the marriage of Robert Atkins c.1703-1783 to Elizabeth Ringrose c.1706-1788 in Moynoe, County Clare in 1728.