Local History by Seán Beattie


Killer Disease in Inishowen 1937

In the early 1900s tuberculosis was still a deadly disease in these parts. The 1937 Annual

Carndonagh Hospital once a workhouse and later a hospital with TB isolation wards.

Reports from the Donegal Medical Office in 1937 make for grim reading. It was still necessary to run fortnightly clinics in Carndonagh, Letterkenny, Donegal Town and Glenties. Monthly clinics were operating in Moville, Clonmany and Muff. (Cholera killed hundreds here in 1832, the year of Duffy’s Cut). There were 30 district nurses in the county engaged in battling the disease. Clonmany clinic had 139 attendances, Moville 192 and Buncrana 417 in 1937. Forty four people were admitted to Carndonagh Hospital’s tuberculosis isolation wards in the same year. In the 1950s the Health Board sent X-ray machines as mobile units to villages in the peninsula once electricity was available. In the 1980s there was an outbreak in Carndonagh Community School. I recall the morning I met medical officers in white coats greeting staff outside the staff room. If your name was on their list, you were debarred from entry. All persons in the school were bussed to Letterkenny for x-ray. Thankfully everyone recovered. No explanation was ever advanced for the outbreak but some said it was “sick building” syndrome.

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