Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Thurles Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 28th March 1839 and covered an area of 195 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 31 in number, representing its 21 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Co. Tipperary: Ballycahill, Ballymoreen, Boolick (2), Burris, Burrisoleigh (3), Drom, Fermor, Holycross, Inch, Kilcooly, East Loughmore, West Loughmore, Moyaliffe (2), Moycarkey, Moyne, Rahealty, Templebeg, Templeree, Templemore (3), Templetoohy, Thurles (5).
The Board also included 10 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 41. The Guardians met each week on Tuesday.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 64,237 with divisions ranging in size from Ballymoreen (population 1,237) to Thurles itself (10,459).
The new Thurles Union workhouse was erected in 1841-2 on a 6.5-acre site on the east side of New Street (now Racecourse Road) at the north-west of Thurles. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 700 inmates. Its construction cost £5,840 plus £1,260 for fittings etc. The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 25th April 1842, and received its first admissions on 7th November. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1950s map below by which time the site had become a hospital.
The buildings followed Wilkinson's typical layout. An entrance and administrative block at the west contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above. It was later extended to the south with the addition of children's accommodation and schoolrooms.
The main accommodation block had the Master's quarters at the centre, with male and female wings to each side.
At the rear of the main block, a range of single-storey utility rooms such as bakehouse and washhouse connected through to the infirmary and idiots' wards via a central spine containing the chapel and dining-hall.
During the famine in the mid-1840s, straw and turf sheds were initially adapted to accommodate 60 fever patients. A 70-bed fever hospital was subsequently erected — this may be the separate block located at the east of the workhouse.
The workhouse site later became the Hospital of the Assumption. The workhouse buildings were demolished in 2004 to make way for new hospital accommodation.
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- Tipperary Studies, The Source, Cathedral Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
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