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Mountbellew, Co. Galway

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Mountbellew (or Mount Bellew) was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. The new union was formally declared on 22nd February 1850. It was created from the northern part of the Ballinasloe Union and occupied an area of 160 square miles. The population falling within the Mountbellew Union at the 1901 census was 14,966. In 1905, it comprised the following electoral divisions:

Co. Galway: Annagh, Ballynakill, Caltra, Castleblakeney, Castleffrench, Clonbrock, Cloonkeen, Cooloo, Derryglassaun, Killeroran, Killian, Mountbellew, Mounthazel, Taghboy.

The Guardians met each week on Tuesday.

The new Mountbellew Union workhouse was erected on a six-acre site about a mile to the south-east of Mountbellew Bridge. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 500 inmates. Its construction cost £5,150 plus £920 for fittings etc. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1932 map below.

Mountbellew workhouse site, 1932

The design was somewhat different to Wilkinson's earlier plans, and was a similar size and layout to workhouses such as those at Glenamaddy and Portumna which were built at around the same time. The front of the site at the south-west had a gateway leading up a short driveway to an entrance archway.

Mountbellew entrance from the south-west, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

At each side of the archway were long two-storey blocks containing school rooms and accommodation for boys and girls.

Mountbellew children's blocks from the south, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

To the rear, the main buildings had a T-shaped layout. The central wing running towards the south-west was a single-storey block containing the dining-hall and kitchens. To each side were accommodation wings for men and one for women. A fever hospital and chapel lay at the north-east of the site, with a burial ground close by at the north.

Mountbellew dining-hall/kitchen from the south, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Mountbellew from the north, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

The site later became a Vocational and Technical College. The front and dining-hall/kitchen blocks still survive in the present college building.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

  • Galway local archives, Island House, Cathedral Square, Galway. Holdings include Board of Guardians' minutes (1850-1912).

Bibliography

  • The Workhouses of Ireland by John O'Connor (Anvil Books, 1995)

Links

  • None.

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