Ancestry UK

Milford, Co. Donegal

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Milford (or Millford) Poor Law Union was formed on the 20th July 1841 and covered an area of 176 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 21 in number, representing its 12 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Co. Donegal: Carn (3), Carrickart (2), Carrowkeel (2), Doon, Glinsk, Greenfort, Kilmacrenan, Meevagh, Milford (3), Oughterlin, Rathmelton (3), Rathmullan (2).

The Board also included 5 ex officio Guardians, making a total of 26.

The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 29,230 with divisions ranging in size from Meevagh (population 1,463) to Carn (5,214) and Milford itself (2,490).

The new workhouse, built in 1845, was designed by George Wilkinson. It occupied a six-acre site a mile to the south-east of Milford and could accommodate 400 inmates. The cost of the building was £6,250 plus £1,150 for fixtures and fittings etc. It was declared fit for the admission of paupers on 24th December 1845, and admitted its first inmates just over three months later on 6th April 1846. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1905 map below.

Milford workhouse site, 1905.

The workhouse followed one of Wilkinson's standard designs, with a front block housing receiving rooms on the ground floor and a board-room on the first floor. A central block housed dormitories, school rooms, day rooms, kitchen and food serving rooms. The rearmost block housed the workhouse infirmary. A separate fever hospital was later added erected at the east of the workhouse. A small burial ground lay at the north-east of the site.

The workhouse buildings were abandoned some time after 1920 and the site is now occupied by an agricultural market.

Milford former workhouse site from the south, 2003
© Peter Higginbotham.

A few fragments of the workhouse perimeter walls survive

Milford former workhouse site, 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.

  • Donegal County Record Office, Three Rivers Centre, Lifford, County Donegal. Holdings include: Guardians' Minutes (1840-1923); Rough Minutes (1863-1864); Report of Visiting Committee (1846-1912); Admissions and discharges (1855-1874); Outdoor Relief Register (1847-1922); Register of persons in workhouse (1882-1897); Punishment Book (1879-1893); Deaths (1899-1917); etc.


  • The Workhouses of Ulster by Michael H Gould, 1983.
  • The Workhouses of Ireland by John O'Connor (Anvil Books, 1995)


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