Tuesday 16 July 2019

UCD Digital Library releases Workhouse Drawings

University College Dublin's Digital Library has released a representative sample of drawings, plans and other documents from the Workhouse Collection (ref 85/128) held by the Irish Archictural Archive (IAA).

Click map to view UCD Digital Library's
Workhouse Drawings Collection
Built between 1839 and 1847, some 130 workhouses were built. They were designed by architect George Wilkinson to accommodate either 400 people or 800 people and were constructed to a standard specification and layout. Fever Hospitals were added to them from 1847, and 30 more workhouses were built between 1849 and 1853 to a different design. (Of these 163 workhouses, 74 have been completely demolished and seven are derelict.)

While the IAA's Workhouse Collection holds drawings for 81 workhouses in the Republic of Ireland, many are in too delicate a condition for open access but UCD's smaller digital sample collection will allow free and unrestricted access to researchers. It holds 42 drawings and documents relating to the Mallow, Castleblayney, Lismore and Gorey workhouses, and the 104-page Fifth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners dating from 1839.

Accompanying the Workhouse Drawings (digital) Collection is an interactive map showing the location of the workhouses on modern maps and data on whether each survives and, if it does, in what capacity. There is also a very informative short feature about the collection here, which is worth reading for greater insight into these architectural icons that were so feared by our ancestors.