What did the Workhouse look like?

By Averil Staunton

The rectangular workhouse site was designed in what was described as the Domestic Gothic style and was a handsome addition to the town. Its gabled roofs, elevated chimneys and air shafts gave it a pleasing and picturesque appearance. The leaded diamond-shaped panes of its windows reflected the sunshine.

However, the interior was another matter. The walls were of rough stone. They were frequently whitewashed because of its antibacterial properties, to look clean, and act as a disinfectant.

The stairs were of cut stone, which were to last over 80 years, however were cold and damp during damp periods of the year. Many of the steps would have a central worn furrow from the many feet that trod up and down on them over the years answering to the call of bells.

The workhouse consisted of three main blocks, together with other smaller buildings and must have been overwhelming sight for the unfortunate people who entered his gates. There was also a Fever Hospital for 80 patients. Temporary isolation sheds for over 300 critically ill people were later added during famine times.


Course: Remembering our Heritage – Ballinrobe Workhouse

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