Ancestry UK

Glenamaddy, Co. Galway

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Glenamaddy (sometimes spelt Glennamaddy or Glenamada) was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. Glenamaddy Union formally came into existence on 22nd February 1850. It was largely created from the southern part of the Castlerea Union and occupied an area of 157 square miles. The population falling within the Glenamaddy Union at the 1901 census was 16,577. In 1905, it comprised the following electoral divisions:

Co. Galway: Ballinastack, Ballymoe, Ballynakill, Boyounagh, Carrownagur, Clonkeen, Creggs, Curraghmore, Glenamaddy, Island, Kilcroan, Kiltullagh, Raheen, Scregg, Shankill, Templetogher, Toberadosh, Toberroe.

The Guardians met each week on Wednesday.

The new Glenamaddy Union workhouse was erected in 1853 on a six-acre site to the south-east of Glenamaddy. 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 £5,250 plus £995 for fittings etc. The site location and layout are shown on the 1916 map below.

Glenamaddy workhouse site, c.1916.

The design was somewhat different to Wilkinson's earlier plans, and was a similar size and layout to workhouses such as those at Urlingford and Mitchelstown which were built at around the same time. The front of the site at the south had an entrance gateway flanked by two two-storey blocks containing school rooms and accommodation for boys and girls. A dispensary was also located at the workhouse entrance.

Glenamaddy workhouse site from the south, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

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

To the rear, the main buildings had a T-shaped layout. The central wing running southwards was probably a single-storey block containing the dining-hall and kitchens. To each side were accommodation wings for men and one for women.

Glenamaddy workhouse site from the east, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Glenamaddy workhouse site from the west, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

A hospital block lay at the north of the site, with a fever hospital and burial ground close by.

Glenamaddy burial ground from the south-east, 2003.
© Peter Higginbotham.

From around 1900, nursing at the workhouse infirmary was under the charge of the Bon Secours Sisters.

The main building was burnt down by Repuplican activists in 1921. From 1922 to 1925, the former hospital section served as the district dispensary and as a home for children and unmarried mothers, still run by the Bon Secours Sisters. The remains of buildings now lie derelict. A memorial stands at the roadside.

Glenamaddy workhouse memorial, 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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