Miss Isabella “Ella” Barbour Pirrie was the first nurse in the Belfast Union Workhouse Infirmary, now the Belfast City Hospital, and established a nursing school there.
She was born in 1857 and her father was a doctor at both Belfast City Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital.
She was related to James Pirrie, the Chief Executive of Harland and Woolf, the company that built the Titanic and a second cousin was John Miller Andrews who helped design the shit.
Ella Pirrie trained at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary and appointed Superintendent and Head Nurse at the Belfast Union Workhouse Infirmary in 1884. She was paid £30.
While at the Infirmary she introduced uniforms for paid nurses and established the first nurse training school in the hospital. The first trainees entered in 1888
She resigned in 1892 from the Infirmary and died in 1929.
The statue of Pirrie at the Belfast City Hospital was placed in the hospital in 2007. It was designed by Ross Wilson, the statue depicts Pirrie holding one of the letters from Florence Nightingale, sent from London on 14 October 1885. The text reads:
“How deep my interest how intense my feeling for you and your work. Every woman must feel the same. You have done a noble deed, God will grant the success. You have already done great things You must be the nucleus of hope for a goodly future of trained nursing staff at Belfast Infirmary which needs you and of perhaps a future training school for Nurses. God speed to you. I am always saying in my heart God bless you and your work always.” (See letter below)
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