June 29, 2016

Ireland VIII (Portumna Workhouse, Ireland)

I'd hoped to work with Ingrid at Portumna Abbey (which proved rather hard to find, even with accurate GPS co-ordinates, as it was off public streets, and tucked out of the way). After determining the Abbey was WAY too public for Ingrid to securely pose, we began to wind our way out of the city...only to come to a crashing halt when the Portumna Union workhouse cam into view.
The Portumna Union workhouse was erected one of 163 workhouses operated in ireland between th early 1840s and 1920s. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was intended to accommodate 600 inmates who were badly affected by the lack of both employment and food at the time. If people could not support themselves, they could come into the workhouse.  Here they would do some work in return for food. People had to stay and live in the workhouse and so the system was known as indoor relief.
The Irish Workhouse Centre, opened in the old Portumna Workhouse during summer 2011, is the only centre telling the history of workhouses in Ireland. Ingrid, Angie and I took a short tour of the remains of the Workhouse, and found it awe inspiring, in terms of the dark history of these buildings.

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