Irish Poor Law records

Scope and Content

Volumes 1-2. Westport Union, minute book of the Board of Guardians 1840-1846. Volumes 3-4. Castlebar Union, minute book of the Board of Guardians 1845-1847. Volume 5. Poor law account book. (No locality given but note on end paper 'Cork') 1814-1823. Volume 6. General account of expenditure at the House of Industry, Cork.

Administrative / Biographical History

Prior to 1834 Ireland did not have any kind of poor law system. Outdoor relief was provided through local parochial (Church of Ireland) boards. The Poor Law Act of 1834 divided Ireland into poor law unions. Each union was to have an elected Board of Guardians. The Board was responsible for building and administering workhouses and providing further care for the poor within its bounds. An Irish poor law union consisted of an area approximately ten miles in radius. Multiple townlands, usually with a large market town as its centre were found in each union. Although most unions were located within one county, some encompassed up to three counties. Large cities contained their own unions. By 1842, 37 workhouses were operation. In that year alone, more than 30,000 people sought relief. By 1846 there were 130 Irish poor unions housing 94,437 destitute people in its workhouses.

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Printed handlist available

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 8, 2002

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