There were 163 workhouses built in Ireland from 1840 to 1858, the single biggest building project undertaken in Ireland ever. The workhouse system, which basically provided work to those in dire poverty in return for food, so as to avoid death by starvation, was an English solution to an Irish problem. It failed!

If you are looking for a unique and educational experience in Ireland, you might want to consider visiting the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna. The Portumna workhouse was built in 1842 and operated until 1922. The workhouse was a place where the poorest and most destitute people in society were sent to live and work in exchange for food and shelter during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The workhouse system was designed to deter people from seeking relief and to enforce a strict regime of discipline and segregation. The conditions were harsh and often inhumane, and many inmates died of disease, starvation or overwork.

The workhouse could accommodate up to 600 inmates, who were classified into different categories according to their age, gender, health and marital status. The inmates had to follow strict rules and regulations, and perform various tasks such as laundry, sewing, gardening and stone-breaking. The workhouse also had a school, a chapel, a hospital and a fever ward.

The Irish Workhouse Centre at Portumna is a restored workhouse that preserves the history and stories of the people who lived and worked there. You can take a guided tour of the buildings and learn about the daily life, work, diet, health, education and religion of the inmates. You can also explore the exhibitions and displays that showcase the social, economic and political context of the workhouse system in Ireland. You can see original documents, artefacts, photographs and personal testimonies that reveal the human impact of the workhouse.

The Irish Workhouse Centre is not only a museum, but also a community hub that hosts various events and activities throughout the year. You can join workshops, lectures, concerts, festivals, markets and more that celebrate the local culture and heritage. You can also support the work of the centre by volunteering, donating or becoming a member.

The Irish Workhouse Centre is open from April to October, from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily. You can book your tickets online or at the reception. The centre is located in Portumna, a town in County Galway that is situated on the shores of Lough Derg.

The Irish Workhouse Centre is a fascinating and moving place to visit that will give you a deeper insight into the history and culture of Ireland. It is a place that will challenge you to think about the past and present issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. It is a place that will inspire you to appreciate the resilience and dignity of the human spirit.


The Workhouse Centre, St Brigids Rd., Portumna, Galway, Ireland

53.098816, -8.223811

The Irish Workhouse Centre



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