The workhouse at Donaghmore was contracted for building in 1850 under the Poor law Act of the British Government at a time of great poverty and deprivation among the local people, arising directly as a result of the great famine (1845 - 1849). About 1,200 people, or 10% , of the population of the area were deemed to be paupers and forced to take refuge in this institution.
Unable to support themselves by any other means, such pauper families found themselves at the mercy of an inhumane workhouse system. Family members were segregated according to age and sex, assigned to separate apartments and not allowed to communicate with each other. The breaking up of families was a consciously worked out policy in order to make the workhouse as unattractive as possible to the poor.
When you visit Donaghmore you will see the original dormitories, a kitchen and a waiting hall authentically restored. As the destitute people arrived at the workhouse, they were examined in this waiting hall hy the Medical Officer. Here they were washed and then clothed in the workhouse dress. The sleeping quarters consisted of raised wooded floors which remain intact. The building today houses an agricultural museum. The artefacts on display demonstrate clearly the day-to-day activities of people in rural Ireland during the past 100 years - including a section on Dairy equipment, farm implements and small tools together with a traditional Irish country kitchen. The records of the Donaghmore Co-operative Society are preserved and on view here also. A visit to Donaghmore Workhouse and Museum is a must for those with a genuine interest in Irish history and culture