Trim, Co. Meath
Trim Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 22nd May 1839 and covered an area of 177 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 21 in number, representing its 11 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Co. Meath: Athboy (2), Gallow, Galtrim, Kilcooly, Kildalkey (2), Killaconican (2), Killyon (2), Laracor (2), Rathcore (2), Rathmolyon (2), Trim (3).
The Board also included 7 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 28. The Guardians met each week on Monday at 11am.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 31,758 with Divisions ranging in size from Gallow (population 1,464) to Trim itself (5,926).
The new Trim Union workhouse was erected in 1840-41 on a six-acre site at the south of Trim. 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 £5,750 plus £1,040 for fittings etc. The site location and layout are shown on the 1912 map below.
The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 29th September, 1841, and received its first admissions on 11th October.
During the famine in the mid-1840s, a house was hired to accommodate an additional 52 inmates. Fever patients were sent to the nearby Trim Fever Hospital.
The workhouse had an entrance block at the east. This has now been now demolished although the date-stone from above its entrance doorway has been preserved.
To the rear was an accommodation block, two storeys high, with three-storey cross wings at each end.
Ventilation towers in the roof of the main block were later placed over the well-holes of internal staircases to improve the circulation of air through the building.
An infirmary block lay to the west, connected by a central spine which housed a chapel and dining-hall.
In 1884, a convent was built at the site to house the Sisters of Mercy who were providing the nursing staff in the workhouse infirmary.
The former workhouse site is now the home of St Joseph's Hospital.
In June 1890, the unions of Trim, Drogheda, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells jointly opened a District School at Trim in the old prison buildings, just north of the workhouse. By March 1891, 172 children were in residence at the school. The male side of the school was managed by lay teachers and the female side by the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1921, the Board of Guardians was abolished and the workhouse site was redesignated as the Trim County Home and accommodate old age and infirm; those suffering from chronic illnesses; mental defectives, and unmarried mothers and their children. In the 1950s, the latter two groups were transferred to other institutions.
By 1960, the site had been renamed St Joseph's Hospital. The workhouse main block still survives.
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.
- Meath County Library, Railway Street, Navan, Co. Meath. Holdings: Guardians' Minute Books (July 1839 - April 1921 with a few short gaps); Rough Minute Books (October 1874 - June 1916).
- Crossman, V (2006) Politics, Pauperism and Power in Late Nineteenth-century Ireland
- Gray, P (2009) The Making of the Irish Poor Law, 1815-43
- O'Connor, J (1995) The Workhouses of Ireland
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.