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5.
Auxiliary Workhouses
9.

Desperate Haven - The Famine in Dungarvan

9. Auxiliary Workhouses
On 25 February 1847 the number of inmates in the Union Workhouse was 732. However, the maximum number allowed for in this establishment was 600. Therefore there was much overcrowding. The Board of Guardians decided to make enquiries in the town with regard to renting a store to provide extra accommodation and also to cater for the great numbers seeking relief. On 28 March 1847 more than 2,000 people sought relief at the Workhouse. Kiely's store No. 1, of Quay Lane, was the first store to be rented. However as the numbers seeking relief continued to increase further buildings were required. These were Kiely's store No. 2, of Quay Lane; Dee's house, Blackpool; Boyle's house, Blackpool; Carbery's store, Strandside South, Abbeyside; Galwey's store, Strandside South, Abbeyside; Keating's store, The Quay; and, Keating's Tan Yard, Poulnacurra.

Kiely's Store No. 1, Quay Lane  

It was decided on 4 March, after a number of meetings, to rent the store of Mrs. Kiely in Quay Lane, Dungarvan, with the condition that the Board make all necessary repairs to that building. However, there was a dispute regarding the actual ownership of the building. This dispute was not settled until 30 September 1847. The Board, at this stage, rented the store of Mrs. Kiely, Mr. Cremen, and any other person having claim to the building in Quay Lane. Cost of repair of these premises was £36.3.6. Mrs. Kiely made an agreement with the Board of Guardians to let her store for five years, with a clause of surrender every six month. The Board paid £9 in favour of Mrs. Kiely, and £7.10s in favour of Mr. Cremen, as receipt for their respective rates. The rent of the store was £35 per annum. The building was insured for £800, and clothing for £200. It was insured with the 'Sun Fire Insurance Company', of London, as were all the premises held by the Guardians. The maximum number of people recommended to be housed in the establishment was 350.

The Board decided to accommodate only men in this building. On 6 January 1847 the Master informed the male paupers at the main house that Kiely's store would be their sleeping-quarters from that time onwards, and that they return each day to the main house to work. The men did not wish to move from the Workhouse. One man refused and the Master had him removed to the prison on the premises. His arrest caused a riot. Were it not for the assistance of the Clerk, School-Master, and two Relieving Officers, the Master believed that some of the officers would have been killed during this riot. The five ring-leaders were sent under escort to the police station in Dungarvan. These were prosecuted for disorderly conduct, and the clerk of the Workhouse was ordered to pay 17 shillings to the clerk of the Petty Sessions as expenses in prosecuting them.

Later in the year it was decided to also accommodate women in this auxiliary. In December 1848 the Master reported that on visiting the store he found the women so refractory, and the wards so disorderly that it was necessary to appoint a ward-mistress to this establishment. Her salary was £12 a year and rations. Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector, reported that Kiely's store, which was under the care of a pauper ward- master, was in good order. In March of that year the Guardians decided to remove all the able-bodied male paupers to the Workhouse premises. This was as a result of their irregular attendance for work at this establishment every day. Out of 350 inmates, not more than 140 or 150 attended the Workhouse.

In May, it was reported that discipline was very lax. Inmates were allowed to wander about the town and surrounding areas, thereby spreading cholera that was prevalent in these houses at that time. It was reported that the people worst affected by disease were those who had been allowed retain their own clothes on entering the Workhouse and who had no proper bedding. Kiely's store was reported to be particularly bad. The visiting committee reported on having visited this store and finding a coffin with a corpse in it. This coffin was lying in the hall way. On enquiry, they were informed that it had been lying there for some considerable time. They also reported that the 'brown bread in use in this auxiliary was badly baked and appeared injurious to health.' Mr. Burke reported that the store was in a filthy condition. Finally, on 27 September 1849  the Clerk was ordered to serve notice on the proprietors of Kiely's store of the Boards intention to surrender the premises on 25 March 1850.

Kiely's Store No. 2, Quay Lane 
 
On 14 December 1848 the Guardians decided to take the unoccupied part of Kiely's store, owned by John Kiely, as an auxiliary Workhouse. Rent was agreed at £20 per annum, with a clause of surrender every six months. The maximum recommended number of  inmates was 150 persons. It was passed by the Board of Guardians, on  4  January 1849 that this store be exclusively occupied by female inmates under the charge of the assistant matron. There were 128 women in this auxiliary who were capable of sewing. On 21 June 1849 the total number of inmates reported occupying Kiely's No. 1 and  No. 2 stores was 332. Mr. Burke, P.L.I., stated that No. 2 store was 'tolerably clean.'

In August 1849 the infirm were removed from Keating's auxiliary Workhouse to this establishment (see below). When the visiting committee later examined Kiely's store, they reported upwards of 300 women in the house, and 'not enough tables to serve them.' It was then ordered that the tables in Galwey's store (which was closing) be removed to Kiely's store. The Medical Officer stated that the window blinds should be opened, thus converting it from the worst ventilated to the best ventilated store.

More infirm were removed from Keating's store and the main house to Kiely's store in September. A corresponding number of able-bodied paupers were removed from Kiely's store to Keating's store and the workhouse, as there was no yard attached to Kiely's, thus restricting exercise facilities. The Master was reprimanded for failing to carry out this order immediately, as women were found wandering the town at 7.00 a.m. The women said that they were going from Kiely's to the Workhouse to work at spinning. The towns-people made complaints to the Guardians about these occurrences. Some improvements were made to the store. These included the erection of a chimney stack by Mr. Donohoe, for the sum of £6 plus materials. Four stoves were also provided for the infirm wards.

On 28 February 1850 the visiting committee recommended that Miss Keane be sent back from Galwey's store, where she worked on a temporary basis, to take charge of Kiely's auxiliary workhouse. Kiely's store contained many female inmates and therefore required a female officer in charge of them. A new female officer was appointed to take care of the children in Galwey's.

On 7 March 1850 the Guardians ordered the removal of 175 of the working classes from the main house to Kiely's store. They remained at Kiely's until the Tannery auxiliary workhouse (see below) was ready for them. Mr. Burke stated that the store was in 'middling order, there being nearly 200 aged and infirm people housed within.' There was much overcrowding. He complained about the lack of employment, 'as many of the women are capable of sewing, knitting, etc., but instead they are all idle.'

On 17 August 1850 total Workhouse accommodation was 2,862, while the total number actually accommodated was 1,627. As a result of this over capacity the Board of Guardians decided, on 22 August 1850, to close Kiely's No. 2 store and to transfer the inmates to the main house. On Monday 26 August 1850 the inmates were transferred but the keys were not surrendered by the Guardians to John Kiely until 25 March 1851.
 
Dee's House, Blackpool  
 
Dee's was also known as Albert's House. Due to the enormous overcrowding that existed in the buildings held by the Poor Law Guardians, the Board decided to seek further accommodation within the town. Messrs. James Byrne, Thomas Power, and Maurice Goff, committee members, returned on 23 April 1849 with the proposal of Mrs. Ellen Dee to let her house (also called Albert's House) and concerns to the Guardians as an auxiliary workhouse. The rent was £40 per year, free of all poor rate county cess. The building was insured for £600, while clothing was insured for £100. This agreement commenced from 1 May 1849.

The estimated accommodation of this house was 210 inmates. However, in June this house and Boyle's house (another auxiliary workhouse) contained 692 inmates. The visiting committee reported that the two largest and best rooms were neither furnished with bed nor bedding. There was some 'bad straw and a few rugs tied up in bundles in a very untidy manner, with broken straw and chaff intermixed.' This led to very unhealthy circumstances within the house and contributed to the spread of cholera and other illnesses. The inmates of Dee's house and Boyle's house used Keatings Auxiliary as day-room accommodation. These houses connected with Keatings by means of the (a right of way).

Patrick Connell was appointed ward-master of Albert and Boyle's houses on 7 July 1849. On 12 July Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector, reported that the house was clean but the offices attached to it that were used as dormitories had a 'foul smell.' In August, the Master suggested that the ground floor of the store between Albert house and the turnip field of Keatings be fitted with benches and tables. It was then used as a day-room and work-room for women paupers who were idle at that time. Mr. Burke again visited the house and reported it as being 'clean and comfortable except for a cess-pool in the yard that appears not to have been cleaned out for a long time, and is emitting a very bad smell.' He directed the ward-master to have it removed. He also ordered mouse-traps, both Albert's and Boyle's houses being infested. Mr. Burke also considered that the removal of the nurses and children to Dee's house from Galwey's store was a bad arrangement. He argued that they ought to be kept at the Workhouse, as Dee's house was too small and badly ventilated for so many nurses and children. It was then decided to move the nursing women to Keatings store, the boys to Albert's house, and the girls to Boyle's house. The store at Dee's was used as a school-room, with the boys on one floor and the girls on another. In order to accomplish these changes a small partition was removed in Albert's house and also in Boyle's Auxiliary. This resulted in extra school-room accommodation.

Due to increased numbers of people seeking relief Workhouse accommodation needed to be expanded. In order to accomplish this the shoemakers, weavers, and tailors, were removed to out-houses at Boyle's and Albert's houses in October 1849. In the following month tenders for partitioning Dee's store, in order to separate the shoemakers and tailors, were advertised for, and also for a shelf on each side of the store. This shelf was used as their bedding compartment.

Boyle's and Albert's houses both contained gateways measuring 30 foot long by 9 foot high. These were converted into dormitories. They then accommodated 26 persons each. It was also ordered that one of the offices in the yard of Albert's house be prepared as a lock-up house for refractory paupers, with bars placed on the windows. In June 1850 Mr. Burke complained about the health hazard at these locations caused by the presence of a cess-pool. He also reported that the spinning wheels were all idle for  want of material. On 15 October 1850 the male school was removed from Albert's house to Keating's store due to overcrowding.

The Clerk of Works, Mr. Reany, furnished the Board  with an estimate of the probable amount for putting Dee's and Boyle's houses into tenantable repair on 11 March 1852. This amounted to £43.14s. The Guardians decided to surrender these properties rather than have them repaired. The proposal of Mr. Dee for damages and repair to his property amounting to £43.15.1, was accepted by the Board. The inmates were transferred to Keating's Auxiliary on 13 March 1852. Keys were handed up on 1 May 1852.


Boyle's House, Blackpool  
 
John Boyle was one of the people approached by the Guardians on 23 April 1849 in their quest for extra accommodation. This was to relieve the pressure of overcrowding in the Workhouse and its auxiliaries. On 3 May he agreed to let his house and concerns to the Board of Guardians of the Dungarvan Union. It was used as an auxiliary workhouse, let at a yearly rent of £40, to commence from 1 May 1849. It was insured at the local office of the Sun Fire Insurance Company, with a policy similar to that agreed on with Dee's; namely fire insurance £600, clothing insurance £100. The Medical Officer estimated capacity at 200-210 inmates.

The visiting committee reported in June of that year that several of the rooms were without bed or bedding. Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector, reported that the house itself was clean but that the offices attached to it had 'a foul smell.' These offices were used as dormitories. In addition to converting the gate-way into a dormitory (same as in Dee's), the Guardians also ordered the removal of the counters in Boyle's shop, thus rendering further accommodation. The inmates used Keatings Auxiliary as a day-room. In August the committee decided to house the girls in Boyle's house. The hall doorways were bricked up in front. This prevented the inmates entering the street and 'causing an annoyance to the neighbourhood.' The Guardians provided extra sleeping accommodation by laying temporary floors in the outhouses of both Boyle's and Albert's houses, 'Otherwise the damp of the earthen floor would destroy the ticks, as well as impair the health of the paupers.' The shoemakers and weavers were then removed to these outhouses.

By August 1850, the Medical Officer reported that in both Dee's and Boyle's houses there was much overcrowding in the sleeping-rooms. To alleviate the overcrowding he recommended the Board of Guardians to use either the school-room or the women's' apartments as sleeping-quarters at night. Eventually, in October 1850, they removed the male school from Albert's house, to improve this situation.

Boyle's house continued in use as an auxiliary workhouse up to March 1852. On 18 March 1852 the Board of Guardians decided to surrender these premises rather than carry out the repairs that would be necessary had they decided to continue its occupancy. Cost of compensation to Mr. Boyle for damages and repairs amounted to £42.18.11. It closed on 1 May 1852, inmates having been transferred to Keatings.

Carbery's Store, Strandside South  

A View Of Carberrys Store Taken In 1890At a meeting on 28 December 1848 the Board of Guardians requested the visiting committee to hire a store or some suitable building in Dungarvan. Its purpose was to accommodate 300 or 400 people, for a period of six to twelve months. On 4 January 1849 the Board agreed to accept Mr. Andrew Carbery's store at Abbeyside, until 1 September 1849, for the sum of £60 rent. The cost of fire insurance was £1,000. Cost of clothing insurance was £500.

The Medical Officer reported on 1 February that the condition of this store 'required particular attention due to the great danger to health, not only to the inmates, but also to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, because the paupers generally retained the clothing in which they were admitted.' It was unhealthy and unhygenic due to overcrowding in the day rooms. As a result of this report an additional floor was added to the store in February. They accomplished this by constructing a timber flooring over the main floor. They used this additional floor as a day-room. The store then accommodated a maximum of 550 inmates. Women primarily occupied the building, but it also contained some children.

In April, Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector, stated that the store was in a bad state. He reported that there was an open area in front of the store that was in a very unhealthy state, as a result of dirty pits and lack of sewerage facilities. The ward-mistress, Miss Connelly, was sick with fever, as were many of the pauper inmates. The inmates wandered about the town because they had no yard in which to exercise. The visiting committee reported that the soup received by the inmates was very bad, 'containing as it did little nutriment.' They also reported that the tin vessels in use were black, 'as though they had not been scoured for a long time.' In July, Mr. Burke again reported that the store was not clean, and 'that a mass of putrid matter still remained at the entrance, thus rendering it very unhealthy.' He suggested the closure of this auxiliary, it being unfit for auxiliary Workhouse purposes.On 9 September 1849 the Board agreed to close this most unhealthy of stores, after eight months of occupancy.

Galwey's Store, Strandside South  
 
On 27 January 1848 the finance committee decided that Mrs. Kiely's demand for rent of her second store was exorbitant. They thus decided to acquire the old store of the late Mr. Galwey, at Abbeyside, for the sum of £10 per annum rent. The cost of repairing the store was not to exceed £12-£13. This figure included the laying of a temporary floor on the ground, and also the cost of six barrels of lime for white washing the entire building. The building was insured for £100, and furniture for £100, specifying the number of fire places, grates, and, stoves. The maximum number of inmates recommended for this establishment was 150 people.

Dr. Halley, P.P. Dungarvan, stated on 15 February 1849 that as the Workhouses in Abbeyside were not in his parish he could not attend the paupers in those houses. The Board of Guardians therefore resolved that Rev. John Shanahan, P.P. Abbeyside should attend them. One of the first reports of Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector, stated that Galwey's store was 'full of persons in their own dirty rags.' This was one of the main reasons for the spread of disease. Discipline was very lax in both this store and Carbery's store, due mainly to the fact that neither of these stores contained a yard. Inmates were thus allowed to wander the town, thereby allegedly spreading disease.

The Board of Guardians resolved on 26 April 1849 that Galwey's store be used as a temporary cholera hospital for the town of Dungarvan until they provided more permanent accommodation. The inmates were re-accommodated in another store that day taken for the purpose (Dee's house, and Boyle's house taken a few days later). They appointed James Dunphy as ward-master on 10 May 1849. John McCarthy replaced him as ward-master on 7 July 1849. However, its use as a cholera hospital was short lived, as a house at Shandon was leased on 28 April 1849, namely Shandon Cholera Hospital. The Guardians then used Galwey's store as a convalescent house for women.

In July, Inspector Burke suggested the closure of the store, claiming that it was totally unfit for auxiliary workhouse purposes. Lack of court-yard space was the main reason for his suggestion. It would mean total confinement for the unfortunate inmates. However, it proved impossible to confine them continually. They were often free to roam about the town. Finally, on 9 August 1849 the Board of Guardians decided to close this store. They transferred the inmates to Keating's store, Boyle's and Albert's houses, and Kiely's store. They removed the paupers on 16 August, and also the stoves, and temporary floor that had been laid at the commencement of their lease.

In February 1850 they again reopened this store. This was as a result of an increase in numbers in the Union at large. Children aged between 5 and 9 years occupied this premises at this stage. Mr. Burke reported on 4 April 1850 that the store then contained upward of 200 children; stating that 'neither the store nor the children were in neat order.' He recommended that an infant-Schoolmistress be placed in charge, who along with managing it would also be able to instruct the children, instead of having them idle. He also noted that the bed ticks in use were dirty. The ward-mistress informed him that these 'had not been washed for a few months.'

The Board of Guardians closed the store for the last time on 15 October 1850. The assistant Schoolmistress and infants re-located to Keating's Auxiliary.

Keating's Store, The Quay   

A View Of Keatings Store (Marked A)


In April or May 1848 the Board of Guardians leased this store to cater for the growing numbers seeking accommodation. Rent amounted to £80 per year, paid in half -yearly instalments, as with all the buildings occupied by the Guardians. Its capacity was 600 inmates, thus making it the largest of the auxiliaries. It also had the advantage of having land attached to it. Men, women, and children were all housed within this establishment.

In February and March 1849 Inspector Burke visited this store and reported it as being in a 'most disorderly state.' He said that it was overcrowded, and contained more than the recommended number of  inhabitants. He recommended the Guardians to advertise for a Schoolmaster and an assistant Schoolmistress to superintend the boys and girls. The Master reported that the land attached to it was 'covered with all the various wastes of the store, and was obliged to cover it immediately due to the obnoxious odour.' When the Master again visited the store on 3 May 1849 he discovered 46 boys and 20 girls suffering from fever and other diseases. These ill inmates were intermixed with the healthy inmates in the sleeping-wards, thus contributing to the spread of these diseases.

On 21 June there were 664 inmates in Keatings store, i.e. 64 over and above the maximum number. Mr. Burke, Poor Law Inspector reported that, 'it was in a dirty state, none of the officers were present, the ward-master was at the Workhouse, the Schoolmaster was absent, assisting the Master at the Workhouse, and thus no school was held.' The Schoolmistress was also absent. He also reported a pool of stagnant water opposite the door of the girls' school, 'enough to engender disease.' It was reported that classification was entirely disregarded with men, women, boys, girls, and children indiscriminately mixed together. 'They were all idle either lounging about or lying down on the ground. I have never seen anything like it.' Keatings store contained more than 1,000 inmates at the time. This figure also  included day room accommodation for the inmates of Boyle's and Dee's houses. As a result of this report, the Board directed the Master to clear the drain in order to remove the stagnant water lodged there. He was also ordered to carry out the following classification:- 'to confine the boys and girls to their respective yards and wards, and to remove the able-bodied men to the Workhouse, and send down in their place a proportionate number of adult women from the Workhouse, and to remove the infirm from Keating's to a separate ward in Kiely's store No. 2.'

By August the condition of the store had improved and was reported clean and comfortable. They sheathed the gates with timber on the inside so as to prevent the inmates bartering Union bread for scraps of bad fish and, 'other unwholesome food.' To improve classification, they removed the boys to Dee's house, the girls to Boyle's, and the adults to Keating's store. Conditions for the nursing women and their children were not very good. They were housed in a small ill-ventilated house not capable of accommodating the numbers required. They had neither laundry facilities nor a water supply.

Improvements were ordered. On 30 August 1849 the Guardians decided to build an addition to the existing building. They enlarged the dining hall by encompassing the kitchen within. They then had an opening 40 ft. long by 18 ft. wide. A 6 ft. high wall was built and this extension was then roofed. Twenty feet of this building was used as a kitchen, namely 20 ft. by 18 ft. by 6 ft. The remainder was used as a laundry and a wash house. A steam apparatus was installed here. However, it was not until 11 April 1850 that the proposal of John Higgins to complete this project was accepted. A dispute arose which halted the construction of this building. Work re-commenced when the proposal of Matthew Donohoe and John Higgins, to finish the dining hall for £34.10.0, was accepted. The Board also decided to build a temporary floor over the dining hall which afforded dormitory accommodation for an extra 110 people. This cost £27 and was erected by James Barry. This room was 60 ft. long, 26 ft. wide and 12 ft. high, and was completed on 27 March 1850. Shutters were ordered for several stores, as many of the windows were without them, thus leading to exposure to wind, rain and intense cold. In addition, it was necessary to glaze 70 windows on the premises.

In September, the assistant master reported that he had no work room for those capable of work. This resulted in the removal of the boys and girls school-rooms to Dee's store. Their sleeping quarters were in Dee's and Boyle's houses. The land at Keating's was used for the industrial agricultural employment of the boys. The now vacated school-rooms could be used as day and work rooms, consequently Kiely's No. 1 store could be surrendered.

A number of other improvements was carried out during October and November, not least of which were the improvements made to the walks by the boys. A fence made of fir poles was erected between the girl's yard and the field at Keatings. Sewer and cess-pool tanks were completed in compliance with the plans and specifications of Mr. Reany, Clerk of Works.

When Mr. Burke visited the store on 4 April 1850 he made the following report. The store was 'in a dirty and disorderly state, the dormitories being not so bad as the day rooms. The women were only receiving breakfast at 12 noon, and some even later.' He recommended that the food for the auxiliary be cooked at Keating's Auxiliary rather than at the Workhouse. He made the same recommendation as regards washing. The women were all idle, the ward-mistress stating that she had no wool for them to work. The boys' school was in a very discreditable state. 'The Schoolmaster although anxious was incapable of conducting a school with over 300 boys. Half the boys were huddled together in a filthy ill ventilated room. They were all idle while the land, walks and yards were in a most neglected state.' The girls' school was better but the children were not employed. He stated that an assistant was required for the auxiliaries, as it contained between 1,200 and 1,300 inmates. He reported that 'the ward-mistress was deficient in her qualifications and had little notion of cleanliness.'

Mr. Burke on his next visit, 3 June 1850, reported an improvement with the schools boys being brought into better order. However more school requisites were required. He suggested that the house at the Tannery, then used as a stable be converted into a girls' school, and the cabin adjoining it be made into a stable.

The proposal of Stephen Smallfield to reset the boiler or steam engine in the tan yard adjoining Keatings, for the sum of £13.10.0 finding all materials, was accepted. In August, Mr. Cooper, a practical engineer, was asked to come to Dungarvan to adapt the steam engine at Keatings to cook food and also to heat water for laundry purposes.

On 5 September 1850 the services of the assistant Schoolmaster were dispensed with, owing to the reduced number of school children at Keating's. Re-organisation of the school then took place. The assistant Schoolmistress left at about this time. She was replaced by the assistant Schoolmistress at Galwey's. The infants under her charge were removed to Keatings with her and later moved to the former female school. The boys' school was likewise removed to Keatings. A few old women were appointed to take charge of the infants while their mothers were employed at preparing flax grown in the Workhouse grounds. Four adults, weavers by trade, worked six looms. They had two boys from the 4th. class working with them together with six others under instruction. Conditions improved in this auxiliary. It was run much more efficiently and smoothly. In February 1852 the visiting committee reported that 42 flax and 24 woollen wheels were at work and 'that system and regularity prevailed throughout the whole establishment.'

This auxiliary continued in a very satisfactory state and the officers connected with it were praised for their efficiency. A trained instructress to teach the young female inmates embroidery, netting, knitting, etc., was advertised for at a salary of £15 per annum, plus rations and apartments. A report by the visiting committee on 1 July 1852 reported the female school well attended by Miss Power and Mrs. O'Brien. They examined the class rolls of the girls' school and infant school for the week ending 26 June 1852;-

  • In Girls' School 210 on 26 June 1852
    In Girls' School 253 in June 1851
    In Infants' School 144 in June 1852
    In Infants' School 212 in June 1851

i.e. a decrease of 68 in infant school and 43 in girls' school.

Of the above numbers present in these schools at this time (1852), half belonged to the Kilmacthomas Union. These were expected to leave in September. 31 of them were in the girls' school, and 41 in the infants' school. The visiting committee also reported that Mrs. O'Brien was equally attentive and efficient in discharging the Christian Doctrine to the infants. On 13 July 1852 the school girls were transferred from Keating's to the new building in the main house that had just been completed.

On 19 August 1852 the visiting committee recommended that this auxiliary be closed, the paupers removed to the main house, with the exception of the infant school. The Master and the Matron were removed to the main house and the porter John W. Ryan was discharged after two years service. The infant Schoolmistress was left in charge of the premises until a proper place at the main house was prepared for the infants.
It was resolved that the Clerk write to the agent of Chancery notifying the desire of the Guardians to continue their tenancy of Keating's Auxiliary to 25 March 1853. On 27 January 1853 the male weavers were removed to the male idiot ward at the main house which had been prepared as a work shop for their reception. On 23 February '53 the infirm, numbering 198, were removed to Keating's Auxiliary from the main house since all the healthy paupers had been transferred to the main house from Keating's. By 10 March this number had increased to 261 infirm paupers.

On 17 March 1853 the Board decided to take Keating's for a further six months, from 25 March to 29 September 1853. The children and infirm women were accommodated in the main house and the looms were removed from the infirm ward and the idiot wards at the main house to Keating's. The able-bodied women and the male weavers were also removed to Keating's. The nurses accommodation was removed to Keating's in order that the room occupied by them in the main house could be converted into a school, as originally intended. Keatings was visited at least twice weekly by the Master and Matron.

On 12 May 1853 Mr. Hamilton, Poor Law Inspector, reported that there was much scope for the employment of the able-bodied inmates of this establishment. A portion of the dining-hall was appointed to the weavers. As one of the dormitories at the female side of the main house had been converted into a clothing store, the inmates of this dormitory were then transferred to Keating's store. These numbered 88 in total. The male and female weavers, numbering 13, remained at Keating's under the supervision of the weaveress until 29 September 1853. By this time the workshop sheds were ready for their reception in the main house. The Master handed up the key to Keating's store to the Receiver, Mr. Goff, on 29 September.
 
Keating's Tan Yard, Poulnacurra  
 
On 21 February 1850 the Clerk was ordered to report on the tan yard and store attached to Keating's at Poulnacurra. This tan yard was at the time untenanted. The leasing of this property was for the same length of term as Keating's store. The acquisition of these premises was necessary as a result of the overcrowded state of Keating's auxiliary. The Board leased it at a yearly rent of  £40, with liberty to make all necessary alterations. The terms of the lease did not require the Board to put the premises in order as a tannery when surrendering the property.

However, on 9 April 1853 the Board of Guardians called an extraordinary meeting to take immediate steps to provide a suitable building for the accommodation of opthalmia patients. Opthalmia was prevalent throughout the town and its environs at this time. This epidemic resulted in a corresponding increase in the numbers infected within the Workhouse and its auxiliaries. It was, therefore, necessary for the Board to provide a building capable of housing the opthalmia patients. These patients were thus isolated from the healthy inmates. The Board chose the tannery to fulfil this purpose. They ordered the Master to have the building cleared out and prepared for all the affected cases, and also to divide it into two wards; one for the male and one for the female patients. They also directed that the existing opening with Keating's auxiliary be closed up. They made a doorway as an entrance from the Shandon side of the building. Immediate reconstruction was necessary, as 17 new cases had occurred within the previous two days. The Medical Officer, John Coman, examined this building and approved of its conversion into an Opthalmia hospital, stating that, 'it had a healthy situation being adjacent to green fields and good walking ground, which was necessary for the recovery of such patients.'

Keatings Poulnacurra - Opthalmia Hospital  
 
Weekly Reports of Medical Officer:-

14 April 1853
He stated that of the 255 patients in hospital on that day, 126 were cases of opthalmia, and the remaining 129 were various cases under treatment at the main house infirmary. This did not include the 39 cases in the Fever hospital. The number of new cases since the first report was 55. For the previous two or three days the admissions with opthalmia were on the decline.

21 April 1853
The Medical Officer reported that the numbers in hospital on that day were 223 and that the admissions that week was 58. Of that number 31 were cases of opthalmia. In the opthalmia wards on that day there were 104 patients. He assured the Board that opthalmia was on the decline and assuming a milder type, and also that since he made a change in the dietary from white bread and milk to house diet, no other cases of 'imposition or artificial opthalmia had occurred.'

28 April 1853
He reported that opthalmia, for the previous week seemed much on the decline. The admissions that week was only 20, while for the 14 previous days they were over 100. He also reported that the tannery at Keating's store was 'quite sufficient, and in every way suitable as opthalmia wards, and that the Union had not been put to any additional expense by appropriating it as an opthalmia hospital.' He expected in a few weeks to be able to close it up altogether, as not being wanted for the above purpose.

5 May 1853
The Medical Officer reported that the admissions that week numbered 16. The numbers remaining in hospital were 256, and 115 of that number were cases of opthalmia, over half of which were convalescent and able to walk out every fine day.

19 May 1853
He reported that the numbers remaining in hospital on that day were 240. One hundred and seven of that number were cases of opthalmia under treatment at the opthalmia hospital, Keating's store.

26 May 1853
There were 16 cases of admissions of opthalmia that week, while the admissions for the previous two weeks were about 20 each week. 'Up to this date none of the patients had lost an eye.' They were all reported as doing well.

2 June 1853
'The number of opthalmia cases was not increasing, there being only 106 cases in hospital on this day.'

As the number of cases had decreased the remaining opthalmia patients were removed to the main house. The hospital closed on 29 September 1853, at the same time as Keating's Auxiliary.

Author: William Fraher

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