Roscrea, Co. Tipperary
Roscrea Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 8th May 1839 and covered an area of 242 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 28 in number, representing its 19 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Co. Tipperary: Bourney (2), Burrisnafarney, Killea, Killevinogue, Rathnaveoge, Roscrea (5).
King's County: Agahancon, Cullenwale, Dunkerrin, Ettagh, Kilcommon, Kilmurry, Roscomroe, Shinrone. Queen's County: Burris in Ossory (3), Doanmore, Eirke, Kile, Rathdowney (3).
The Board also included 9 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 37. The Guardians met on Thursdays at 1pm.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 61,374 with divisions ranging in size from Aghancon (population 1,335) to Roscrea itself (10,455).
The new Roscrea Union workhouse was erected on a six-acre site a mile to the south of Roscrea. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 700 inmates. Its construction cost £6,700 plus £1,296 for fittings etc. The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 24th March 1842, and received its first admissions on 7th May.
The site location and layout of the Roscrea workhouse are shown on the 1902 map below.
The main buildings followed Wilkinson's typical layout. An entrance and administrative block at the east contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above. As happened in many Irish workhouses, the entrance block was later extended with the addition of children's accommodation and school-rooms to each side.
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, sleeping galleries were erected and stables appropriated to accommodate an additional 200 inmates. A fever hospital was later erected at the north-west of the site.
In 1853, the south-western part of the Roscrea Union went to become part of the new Borrisokane Union.
The workhouse buildings no longer exist and a factory now occupies the site.
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- Tipperary Studies, The Source, Cathedral Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
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