Ancestry UK

Ennistymon, Co. Clare

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Ennistymon (sometimes spelt Ennistimon) Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 3rd August 1839 and covered an area of 238 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 21 in number, representing its 13 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Co. Clare: Burren, Carron, Corofin (2), Drumcreehy, Ennistymon (5), Kilfenora, Killilagh, Killonahan, Kilshanny (2), Liscanor (2), Miltown Malbay (3), Rath, Rathborney.

The Board also included 7 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 28. The Guardians met each week at noon on Tuesday.

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 46,637 with divisions ranging in size from Carron (population 1,380) to Ennistymon itself (9,020).

The new Ennistymon Union workhouse was erected on a six-acre site a mile to the west of Ennistymon. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 600 inmates. Its construction cost £6,600 plus £1,800 for fittings etc. The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 1st July 1842, and received its first admissions on 5th September. The site location and layout are shown on the 1915 OS map below.

Ennistymon workhouse site, 1915.

The buildings followed Wilkinson's typical layout. An entrance and administrative block at the north contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above.

The main accommodation block had the Master's quarters at the centre, with male and female wings to each side. At the rear, 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, a 30-bed fever hospital was erected on the site.

In 1852, the northern and eastern parts of the Ennistymon Union went to become part of the new Ballyvaughan and Corofin Unions.

Most of the workhouse was demolished in the 1920s and replaced by a cottage hospital. A portion of the dining-hall and chapel are still visible.

Ennistymon workhouse site from the south-west, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Ennistymon workhouse chapel block from the south-west, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.


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.


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


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