Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

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Nenagh Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 9th February 1839 and covered an area of 288 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 34 in number, representing its 25 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Co. Tipperary: Annameadle (2), Ardcrony, Ballingarry, Ballymackey, Burgessbeg, Borrisokane, Castletown (2), Cloghprior, Cloughjordan (2), Dolla, Kilbarron, Kilcomenty, Killoscully, Kilmastulla, Kilmore (2), Kilnerath, Kilruane, Knigh, Lisbunny (2), Nenagh (3), Newport, Templederry, Templekelly (2), Terryglass, Youghall (2).

The Board also included 11 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 45. The Guardians met on Thursdays at noon.

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 89,891 with divisions ranging in size from Knigh (population 1,447) to Nenagh itself (9,842).

The new Nenagh Union workhouse was erected on a seven-acre site half a mile to the south of Nenagh. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 1,000 inmates. Its construction cost £8,320 plus £1,580 for fittings etc. The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 1st December 1841, and received its first admissions on 28th April 1842.

The site location and layout of the Nenagh workhouse are shown on the OS map from 1904.

Nenagh workhouse site, 1904.

The main buildings followed Wilkinson's typical layout. An entrance and administrative block at the west contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above.

The main accommodation block had the Master's quarters at the centre, with male and female wings to each side. At the rear, a range of single-storey utility rooms such as bakehouse and washhouse connected through to the infirmary and idiots' wards via a central spine containing the chapel and dining-hall.

During the famine in the mid-1840s, sheds and sleeping galleries were erected to accommodate an additional 260 inmates. In 1847, a 70-bed fever hospital was erected at the east of the site.

In 1853, the northern part of the Nenagh Union went to become part of the new Borrisokane Union.

The workhouse buildings were burnt down by republican forces in February 1923. Nenagh General Hospital (St Joseph's) now occupies the site.

Nenagh former workhouse site entrance, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.


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  • The Workhouses of Ireland by John O'Connor (Anvil Books, 1995)


  • None.

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