Grizel Steevens

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Grizel Steevens (* 1653 ; † 1746 in Dublin ) was an Anglo-Irish benefactress.


Grizel Steevens and her twin brother Richard were born in England, but came to Ireland as a child because their father, a clergyman, had to flee from Oliver Cromwell . The family initially lived in Athlone , County Westmeath . Grizel later moved to her brother in Dublin to take care of his household. Richard Steevens, who had completed his training as a doctor at Trinity College in 1687 , died on December 15, 1710 and left his fortune to his sister, with the condition that a hospital was built. This was not supposed to happen until after Grizel's death, but she was so anxious to grant her brother's request that the hospital be built as soon as possible. It was opened in 1733 and Grizel lived there until her death. Although she was not officially part of the management of the facility, she apparently had great influence, so in the 18th and 19th centuries the hospital was often referred to as Madame Steevens Hospital , even though it was actually Dr. Steevens Hospital was called. The hospital existed under this name until December 1987. Today it continues to operate as the Eastern Regional Health Authority's Shared Services Center .

The legend of the pig's head

Grizel Steevens had a sad fate: she was said to have the head of a pig. Allegedly, her pregnant mother should have chased away a beggar with numerous children whom she should have called little pigs. As a punishment, the daughter is now carrying a pig's head on her shoulders.

In Grizel Steevens' lifetime, stories about rich women with pig heads were extremely popular. For example, Tannakin Skinker is known by name, whose parents are said to have tried desperately to marry her, but which was unsuccessful despite the high dowry. There were also stories about the pig-faced Lady of Manchester Square and the amazing Mrs. Atkinson.

However, while these people were arguably just made up, Grizel Steevens was real. She by no means had a pig's head, but wore a veil because of an eye problem. In order to counter the rumors, she basked in public on her balcony for a while; she also had herself portrayed to prove that she had a perfectly normal human face. This picture was hung in the entrance hall of the hospital.

But the visitors preferred to be shown the silver trough in an outbuilding, from which Grizel Steevens supposedly used to feed. Another painting was shown there that showed her with a pig's head.

The legend persisted. In 1832, William Wilde, Oscar Wilde's father , began his training at the Dr. Steevens Hospital. He was shown Grizel Steevens' silver trough as well as numerous visitors to the hospital, who in the 19th century were told the story of the pig-headed donor from employees. According to TPC Kirkpatricks History of Doctor Steevens' Hospital , there was also a plaster cast of a human face with a pig's nose in the hospital, which was also shown to visitors. Although clinic management later banned these jokes, the legend continued to prevail. On January 30, 1876, a seaman aboard the USS Portsmouth wrote a letter to Grizel Steevens, whom he apparently believed was still alive, and proposed marriage to her pig-faced daughter because he had heard that the dowry was very high. The letter was reprinted in the Dublin Medical Press , for general amusement . The legend was still spread later; TG Wilson, William Wilde's biographer, testified in 1940 that belief in Grizel Steevens' pig's head was widespread.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Angela Bourke, The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Vol. V, New York University Press 2002, ISBN 0-8147-9907-8 , p. 706
  2. Archived copy ( Memento of the original dated February 14, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /