Thursday Doors – The Poorhouse (3)

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.

A collection of iron cooking vessels that would have been used back in the day.

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.

Here’s a view of the back of the infirmary with walls dividing the yard leading to the mortuary.

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.

In some parts the old ivy seems to be holding the walls together.

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.

The female day-room and nursery sits to the right of the chapel and the male day-room to the left.

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.


About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
This entry was posted in castles and ruins, Cavan, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, social issues, Thursday Doors, Travel, victorian ireland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Thursday Doors – The Poorhouse (3)

  1. The images are lovely with the wildflowers framing your images. I’m glad you didn’t drop your camera!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. msgt3227 says:

    Great photos Jean! I love exploring sites like these, plus it is awesome that it will be restored! Thanks for sharing this!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve enjoyed your photo series, but what a look at different times. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to be a child in these circumstances, yet better than starving on the streets.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I see the waterpump house as a face!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    It’s amazing to see how after just a few short decades Mother Nature is reclaiming its rightful place. I can only imagine the costs and the effort involved in the restoration work.
    As much as this was sad and difficult topic to think about I found it quite educational. Before this I had only a basic notion that such places existed…and to think that 163 were needed throughout the country. It reminds me of just how lucky we are and how much we take for granted today.
    Thank you Jean 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • These places remind me to count my blessings, Norm. In those days, because there was no social welfare or state pension, many people found themselves at the mercy of a system that looked on poverty as if it was a crime, differentiating between deserving poor and undeserving. It was the ‘deserving’ that were allowed into the workhouse. Heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a very sobering place, but we need to not forget. I watched the video and looked up even further info on line. Sad and humbling, but hopefully we can learn from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. TCast says:

    Such beautiful photos, Jean. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan Antion says:

    I have enjoyed this series very much, Jean. The photos are very good, and they help give a feel for the size of these institutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Beautiful pictures of a sad place. I especially love the picture of the ivy holding up the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. An interesting series about the poorhouse, Jean. And your pictures illustrate it beautifully. Thank you for sharing them. My great-grandmother spent many of her childhood years in the poorhouses of London, though none were in such lovely surroundings. Her mother was from Ireland and possibly no stranger to places like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. slfinnell says:

    The stained glass must have been a small thing of beauty in such stark surroundings. A little beacon of hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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