Community Stories  >  Case Studies

Bawnboy Workhouse

Bawnboy sits close to Cavan’s border with Fermanagh. In the 1850s - as Ireland struggled with hunger and acute poverty - the town was chosen as the location for a workhouse, a place where the poorest were sent to end their days.

These often wretched institutions represented Victorian England’s official response to widespread deprivation.

In keeping with that era’s notion of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’, the workhouses more often resembled prisons than places of care and comfort.

Bawnboy was just one of 163 workhouses built in Ireland between 1840 and 1854, an indication of the deeply impoverished nature of Irish society at the time. When opened, it housed 52 people.

It ceased to function as a workhouse in 1921, but remained open in a variety of guises until 1981.

Over two decades later, in 2010, the local development association turned its attention to the old workhouse premises, drawn by its huge potential as a tourist amenity and attraction.

The project found strong support in the local community and with the local agencies. Clann Credo provided financial assistance as the project was delivering an excellent resource to the community and rescuing a key part of our collective history from oblivion. 



Location: Bawnboy, Co. Cavan

Website: http://www.workhouse.bawnboy.com/