Phoenix hospital – what’s in a name?


Sir, – The new national children’s hospital is to be named Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Ireland.

This name was chosen from some 300 suggestions. The decision was overseen by a naming steering group, which included representatives from the Children’s Hospital Group, parents and the three Dublin children’s hospitals. Seven roadshows were undertaken in children’s hospitals and paediatric units across the country. The suggested names were reviewed by no fewer than six focus groups consisting of staff, parents, the Youth Advisory Council, patients and service users, working with the Steering Group. The chosen name was recommended and endorsed by the Children’s Hospital Group Board. The name is, we are told, easy to read and pronounce. Finally, it translates phonetically into our native tongue as féinics.

Rarely, I suspect, has a project consumed so much time, thought, effort and money and produced such an underwhelming a result. Phoenix. A satirical magazine? A Dublin park whose name has origins quite separate from the mythical bird (Páirc an Fhionnuisce)? Prof Dumbledore’s pet, Fawkes, in the Harry Potter books? Really?

A name with no tangible social, cultural, geographical or historical resonance for the sick children of Ireland or their long suffering parents. And, incredibly, a name already in use by a children’s hospital, in Phoenix Arizona, one of the largest children’s hospitals in the United States.

Can we look forward to future recommendations from the steering group, such as renaming Dublin Airport as JFK, or the Bord Gáis Theatre as the Sydney Opera House? Could we at least see the list of the 299 names rejected? Whatever about phoenixes, there must be some real turkeys in there. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – The Children’s Hospital Group in Dublin said that it had gone through a “comprehensive naming process” before it decided on the name Phoenix. What is a comprehensive naming process? Who took part in it? How was the final name chosen from different suggestions that presumably were proposed?

Perhaps the most irrational aspect of the new hospital name is that it has already been accepted by the Children’s Hospital Group that it will cause confusion with another children’s hospital. – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – The Phoenix? Bearing in mind that the new hospital is to be built in the wrong place, perhaps The Cuckoo would be a more appropriate name. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.