Ancestry UK

Clonakilty, Co. Cork

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Clonakilty was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. Clonakilty Poor Law Union formally came into existence on 3rd October 1849. It was created from former parts of the Skibbereen, Bandon and Dunmanway unions and occupied an area of 126 square miles. The population falling within the Clonakilty Union at the 1901 census was 19,158. In 1902, it comprised the following electoral divisions:

Co. Cork: Abbeymahon, Ardfield, Argideen, Butlerstown, Cahermore, Castleventry, Clonakilty Urban and Rural, Coolcrahen, Courtmacherry, Derry, Kilkerranmore, Kilmaloda, East, Kilmaloda, West, Kilmoylerane, Kilnagross, Knocks, Rathbarry, Rosscarbery, Rossmore, Templeomalus, Timoleague.

The Guardians met each week on Friday.

The new Clonakilty Union workhouse was erected in 1852-3 on a seven-acre site a mile to the north-east of Clonakilty. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building accommodated 700 inmates. Its construction cost £6,900 plus £1,400 for fittings etc. The site location and layout are shown on the 1902 OS map below.

Clonakilty workhouse site, 1902.

The layout was somewhat different to Wilkinson's earlier designs, and was a similar size and design to the workhouses at Urlingford and Mitchelstown which were built at around the same time. The front of the site at the east would probably have had an entrance gate, flanked by two two-storey blocks which contained school rooms and accommodation for boys and girls.

To the rear, the main buildings had a T-shaped layout. The central wing running eastwards probably contained the dining-hall and kitchens. To each side were accommodation wings for men and one for women. A hospital block lay at the west of the site.

Clonakilty hospital block from the north-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

Clonakilty hospital block from the north-west, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

The original entrance buildings were burnt down during the troubles in 1916. In May 1920, it was reported that the British military had occupied the workhouse and were patrolling the town night with fixed payonets, interrogating persons who were out late.

A replacement building opened in 1931 as the Scared Heart Hospital.

Clonakilty new hospital from the north-east, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

Clonakilty new hospital from the north-west, 2002
© Peter Higginbotham.

The original main building was demolished in 1965. The site is now known as Mount Carmel Hospital and provides a variety of care services for the local area.


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


  • None.

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