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Saint Canice's psychiatric hospital, Kilkenny

Saint Canice's Hospital in Kilkenny Ireland served for years as the local psychiatric ward — across the River Nore and close-enough-but-not-too-close to town.

The appearance of the facility (now used for administrative purposes) is imposing, ominous. It does not look like a place where people would go to get well. It looks like a place where people would go, and stay — outside of town.

The structure, local dark limestone, stands three high stories high between its two massive stone towers. I have never been able to find out the original purpose of the towers. They look terrible and cruel. They add to the feeling that if you were not insane when you checked in, you would become so.

Indeed, I heard an awful story about St. Canice's that is a clip from the scrapbook of a darker period in Irish history.

The aunt of a friend of mine was incarcerated (let's call it that) at St. Canice's, because she had become pregnant while unmarried. This was a common response under the iron clamp of Irish Catholicism. The baby taken away, the mother would be institutionalized where she could not visibly shame her family — and she was forced to work as penance for her "sin."

Saint Canice's Hospital opened in 1852 and closed in 2006.

She threw herself into the river, this woman. Her life had been taken from her, her child given away — and she'd had to live in the grotesque and awful St. Canice's Hospital.

I've done a little bit of work at St. Canice's whilst working for a cleaning company. One time I was helping to do the "initial clean" of a newly-installed linoleum floor on the ground level. This work involves swabbing the surface to wet it; scrubbing off the remnants of glue and the like with a scouring pad underfoot; then mopping the surface clean and letting it dry before applying two coats of polish. We did that, in this large refurbished room.

Anyhow, we'd done a proper job, and it looked good. With two coats of polish, and all the equipment out, that was us done for the day.

Looking in the window, later (but before anybody had entered it,) I noticed a thick black mark on the linoleum near one end of the room. We hadn't left it there.

We never heard anything back about it, either, after signoff.

I thought it was a little bit spooky, and unexplainable.