For most of the 20th century Dr Steevens’ Hospital was a working hospital housed in a hodgepodge of buildings. After its closure in 1987 the 19th and 20th century buildings were cleared away to reveal the original hospital, first opened in 1733 through the efforts of Griselda Steevens. An important player in the history of medicine in Ireland, it is now an administrative centre for the Health Service Executive. Except for a brief period in the late 1980s and early 1990s it has housed a beautifully preserved early 18th century collection of books: The Edward Worth Library.
The library is the only room in the building that still carries out the purpose for which it was designed. Edward Worth (1678-1733) was a trustee for Dr Steevens’ Hospital and left the institution £1,000 and his library, valued at £5,000. Anxious not to divert money from the care of poor patients, Edward Worth also provided for the set-up of the library. The executor paid £100 to fit out the room allocated to the library, receiving 1,000 books from John Worth’s collection in return (these were ultimately left by him to Trinity in 1742).
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