Ancestry UK

Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny

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Castlecomer was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. Castlecomer Union formally came into existence on 7th June 1850. It was created from the northern part of the Kilkenny Union and occupied an area of 90 square miles. The population falling within the Castlecomer Union at the 1901 census had been 10,114. In 1905, it comprised the following electoral divisions:

Co. Kilkenny: Attanagh, Ballyragget, Castlecomer, Clough, Clogharinka, Kilmacar, Moneenroe, Mothell & Muckalee.

The Guardians met at 11am on alternate Tuesdays.

The new Castlecomer Union workhouse was erected in 1853-4 on a 7.5-acre site half a mile to the south of Castlecomer. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building accommodated 550 inmates. Its construction cost £6,400 plus £990 for fittings etc. The site location and layout are shown on the 1910 map below.

Castlecomer workhouse site, 1910.

The layout was somewhat different to Wilkinson's earlier designs, and was a similar size and design to the workhouses at Urlingford and Mitchelstown which were built at around the same time. The front of the site at the east had an entrance archway, flanked by two two-storey blocks.

Castlecomer former entrance the east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

Castlecomer southern entrance block from the south-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

To the rear, the main buildings had a T-shaped layout. The surviving wing to the east is a single-storey block and may originally have contained the dining-hall and kitchens. The two main accommodation wings, one for men and one for women, were three storeys high.

Castlecomer main building from the north-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

Castlecomer main building from the south-west, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

A hospital block stood at the west of the site. A surviving single-storey block at the southern end of this area appears to have been the mortuary.

Castlecomer mortuary from the south-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

A burial ground stood to the south-east of the workhouse. A small memorial now marks this area.

Castlecomer burial ground, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

The former workhouse site is now the home of the Castlecomer District Hospital.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Kilkenny County Library, 6 John's Quay, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1815-1912, with gaps); Orders and Circulars from the Local Government Board (1910-1919).
  • National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. Holdings include: Register of births (1850-1859).


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


  • None.

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