Thursday Doors this week brings an end to the Poorhouse series. Part 3 will hopefully show you the size of the plot these buildings take up and give you a little more history of the place.
The Master’s rooms, surgery, boys’ school, probation ward and lock-up are to the right of the main entrance. On the left stands the office and boardroom, girls’ school, probation ward and lock-up.
The gates and walls of the workhouse have been beautifully reconstructed using most of the original stone and look exactly like they did when first built, as you can see from this old photograph.
I stuck my phone through the trellis work in the gate to get some clear shots of the interior courtyard and almost dropped it in the process.
Facing the entrance gate is a long narrow building with steps leading up to the first part, the porter’s area. Behind that was the kitchen, which led into the dining room. The chapel was located at the rear of this building.
Nature is reclaiming what was once the male lock-up and privy. Although this part wasn’t fenced off, there was no way to gain access through here and I really wasn’t too eager to try.
You can see what remains of the chapel through this fencing. There is still a stained glass window intact but it was impossible to get a close shot of it. My zoom-in isn’t too clear, sorry.
One hundred and sixty-three workhouses were built in Ireland between 1840 and 1854. With a cost of almost £6,000 Bawnboy opened in November 1853. Fifty-two of the five hundred beds were immediately taken. Because it was built after the Great Hunger years, it never suffered from overcrowding, unlike most of Ireland’s workhouses that were in operation at that dreadful time. It ceased to function as a poorhouse from 1921 but was used by the community for various purposes until 1981. In 2010, the local development association began the work of saving and preserving the buildings. I think this must be an ongoing process, as the cost is huge. Fair play to them for taking on such an expensive but important task.
If you’d like a tour of the inside, here’s a Youtube video.
Thanks so much for stopping by and if you call again next week you’ll find a post about a much happier subject with some shots of the beautiful North Antrim coast.
For a great selection of Thursday Doors, head on over to Norm’s Blog.