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Castletowndelvin, Co. Westmeath

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Castletowndelvin (now known as Delvin) was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. Castletowndelvin Union formally came into existence on 9th August 1850, and was the last union ever created in Ireland. It was formed from parts of the existing Mullingar, Oldcastle and Kells Unions and occupied an area of 116 square miles. In 1905, it comprised the following electoral divisions:

Co. Westmeath: Ballinlough, Ballyhealy, Ballynaskeagh, Bracklin, Clonarney, Collinstown, Copperally, Delvin, Faughalstown, Fore East, Fore West, Hilltown, Kilcumny, Killua, Killulagh, Kilpatrick, Kinturk, Riverdale and Rosemead,

The Guardians met each week on Fridays at noon.

The new Castletowndelvin Union workhouse was erected in 1850-52 on an 12-acre site half a mile to the south-east of Castletowndelvin. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard designs to accommodate 400 inmates. Its construction cost £5,200 plus £885 for fittings etc. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1914 map below.

Castletowndelvin workhouse site, 1914

Like its contemporaries at Donaghmore, Borrisokane and Mountbellew, the workhouse had two long blocks at the front linked by a central entrance archway. To the rear was a T-shaped block with the central chapel running towards the entrance.

On 8 March 1923, two wings of the workhouse, where the Civic Guard was then being stationed, were attacked and set on fire by Republican forces. Eleven days later, the remainder of the building was destroyed.

The workhouse site is now occupied by housing.

Castletowndelvin former workhouse site from the north-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.


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  • The Workhouses of Ireland by John O'Connor (Anvil Books, 1995) [Note that Castletowndelvin is misspelt throughout this book as "Castletowndevlin"]


  • None.

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