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Desperate Haven - The Famine in Dungarvan

23. Appendices

Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy were recognised as making a valuable contribution to hospital administration not alone in this country, but in other countries as well. Their first involvement with any Workhouse hospital in this country was Limerick hospital.[1] A committee was appointed by the Limerick Board of Guardians, in November 1860, to improve the management of their hospital. This committee recommended that the Sisters of Mercy be given the task of running and of staffing it. It was felt that the care of the sick and the administration of the hospital would thus be improved. Up to this period there was no Matron, only paid nurses and 36 pauper nurses in the employ of the hospital. In tandem with improving the physical conditions of the sick, the Guardians also wished to improve their spiritual and moral instruction. They proposed to appoint a Matron and two other Sisters to assist her, each to be paid £20 per annum. The Poor Law Commissioners were unwilling, initially, to appoint them. They stated that their policy of non-denominational  hospitals would be destroyed. Finally, on 15 January 1861, they sanctioned the appointment of the Sisters. This laid down the pattern that was imitated in many other Workhouse hospitals.

The Sisters of Mercy first became established in Dungarvan in 1854. In that year four Sisters came from Cappoquin to Dungarvan. Mr. Andrew Carbery and his wife were principally responsible for their establishment in the town. They offered them, free of rent, the use of a house in South Terrace. This house belonged to the Carberys. Later, in 1859 the Church Street Convent, vacated by the Presentation Sisters, was purchased by Mr. Carbery and granted to the Mercy Sisters.

Their primary function when they first arrived in the town was to visit the sick. [2] The first mention in the Dungarvan Workhouse minutes of the Sisters of Mercy was on 19 June 1856. The Roman Catholic Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Halley, P.P., requested that the Sisters be admitted into the Workhouse to 'impart religious consolation to the sick and infirm. The Government have acknowledged their untiring exertions on behalf of the wounded and sick soldiers in the Crimea.' The Poor Law Commissioners gave their permission on the following week. On 28 August 1862 a notice of Mr. Anthony, Poor Law Guardian, to allow the Sisters into the school, from 12 o' clock noon to 1.00 p.m., to give religious instruction, was carried. Children of a different denomination were placed in a different apartment when the Sisters were giving their instruction to the Catholic school children. This was the stipulation agreed to when granting their entry to the school.

It was not until 27 February 1873 that Mr. Anthony proposed that the Sisters be allowed in as nurses at the hospital, 'and which has been found to confer so many benefits from other Unions.' On 29 May 1873 the Board appointed Sisters Mary Jane Whelan, Mary Flanagan, and Bridget Morrissey, all Sisters of the Order of Mercy, as infirmary nurses. They received a salary of £20 each per year. Accommodation was provided for them within the Workhouse. They had a bedroom each, and also a sitting room, kitchen, and pantry to share between them. They were also given iron bedsteads, mattresses, palliasses, and bolsters and cases. For each bed they received two pairs of sheets, two pairs of blankets, check for curtains, and each person to have a chair and press, basin and ewer. For the sitting room they received a table, an American Clock, a few chairs, a fire iron and fender. The kitchen furniture included two brushes and two dust pans. They were given a few cups, saucers, mugs, plates, knives and forks as pantry ware. The Medical Officer, Dr. King, requested that the infirmary nurse at that time be retained for a while 'as the nuns have not had any previous training as hospital nurses and must be ignorant of midwifery practice.' However, the Guardians thought this unnecessary, 'the Sisters of Mercy having been trained in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin, with a view to their appointment as nurses in this Union.' The Guardians further stated that the midwife of Dungarvan dispensary district would assist them in any midwifery cases.

The Sisters took charge of the infirmary on Monday 23 June 1873. It was reported in August that the infirmary was 'already benefiting from the great care and attention paid to it by the Sisters.' They ordered a sewing machine for the use of the convalescents, and also one for the use of the older school girls, all of whom were instructed in its usage. The visiting committee reported on 26 November 1874 that they 'were more than surprised to find such an amount of clothing made by the Sisters of Mercy for the use of the house since they entered, work never been done in the Infirmary before.' The nuns sought, and received a rise from £20 to £27 each per annum in June 1875.

In January 1880 the visiting committee suggested that a new building, costing £740.14.2, be built to house the Sisters. However, the Local Government Board refused to sanction this building. The visiting committee then suggested that a new kitchen be constructed and the old one given to the nuns as a refectory. On 31 August 1880 the local Government Board approved of this suggestion.  On 1 December 1881, there was a change in personnel. Sisters Ellen O' Connor, Dora Whelan, and Joanna Heffernan were elected hospital nurses, at £27 per annum. These replaced the original Sisters, some of whom had died. One of them, namely, Sr. Bridget Morrissey, with four others went to Northern Queensland, Australia in 1888. In February 1889, the Vice-Guardians requested that one of the nuns fill the post of Matron of the hospital, at a salary of £50 per annum. On 12 September 1889 Sr. Dora Francis Whelan was finally appointed Matron. She had been in charge of the Infirmary. This was the first time that a Sister was appointed as Matron to the Dungarvan hospital. This practice of appointing a Mercy nun as Matron was continued up to very recently. By 1988, the nuns had given up the Matronship. Sr. Baptist was the last Mercy nun to act as Matron.

It was reported by the Guardians that the introduction of the Sisters led to many improvements in the spiritual as well as in the physical well being of the sick and poor. [3] Up-to-date practices were introduced into the hospital, which improved its standard. It became noted for the success of the many difficult operations performed there over many succeeding years.

Assisted Emigrant List
List of Emigrants assisted by the Board of Guardians of Dungarvan Union  1852-1890.

Ahearne, Sarah, age 15, received passage money from her sister in America. She was to be accompanied on the voyage by her brother.

Byrne, Thomas, his brother and sister, all under 15, had received passage money from America.

Brien, Mrs., and her four children had received passage money from her husband Daniel in America. Granted £8 on 13 May for clothes and travel expenses to Queenstown.

Bransfield, Patrick, from Dromore Electoral Division was granted £5 on 11 August.

Bransfield, Patrick,
Hearne, William, The Master of the Workhouse was to accompany both boys to Queenstown.

Brien, Margaret, and her daughter Kate had received £2 from her son in America and would borrow the balance from her mistress. Granted £2 for clothes for her daughter on 16 September.

Brien, Thomas, his wife and two children, Workhouse inmates, had received passage tickets to Philadelphia. Granted £6 on 19 May.

Brett, Mary, and her two children were granted £2 to join her husband in America.

Bagge, Mary Anne, had £2 and needed the balance to enable her to emigrate to Canada.

Condon, Bridget, from Ringville. Her passage to America had been paid by her father. She left on 25 May with her aunt.

Connell, Denis, and his two children had received £6 from friends in America and were therefore, to be discharged.

Casey, Johanna, received passage certificate, from her brother in America.

Cole, Mary, and her seven children had received a passage certificate, from her husband in America.

Cassell, Mrs, and her seven children required £22 to emigrate to America.

Carrol, Bridget, and four children had their passage money paid by her husband in America.

Curran, Bridget, her passage to America had been paid by her uncle who also sent £1 which her mother had to spend in order to support the family. Granted £1 for clothes on 28 August.

Cronin, Hanora, an inmate, required £2 to emigrate to America. Granted 29 June.

Carroll, Mary, and two children were granted £11.10.0 on 7 December.

Carey, Bridget, and her child were granted £4 on 18 July.

Coffey, Anastasia, inmate, and her child had received a passage certificate to New York. She was granted 30 shillings on 2 April 1883.

Carleton, Mrs, and three children required £9 for emigration expenses. Granted 21 June.

Corbett, Kate, age 9, 'at nurse with Kate Chandler of Abbeyside.' Her aunt Ellen McGrath of Moyne, applied to have the child sent with her brother to America, their passage having been paid by their parents living in Yonkers.

Coyne, Mary, inmate, single, age 35 and her daughter age 12 had received passage money from a daughter in America. The Dungarvan Guardians granted her £3 expenses for her daughter. However, the Local Government Board wrote on 6 July 1887 stating that they could not sanction the payment because 'only women of good character are only fit objects for emigration at the expense of the ratepayers.' The Master rejected this explanation and pointed out that she had been in charge of a department in the fever hospital for ten years.

'Her passage is paid for and she will go to America in any case. Under the present circumstances the child may be left behind, a burthen on the Union.' The Guardians insisted that the grant should be sanctioned and the Local Government Board eventually agreed to give £3.10.0 on 18 August.

Curran, Johanna, inmate, her passage had been paid by her sisters in America. She required passage money for her son Patrick, age 13. Granted £2 on 12 June.

Dalton, Edmond, Sailed on this date from Liverpool to New York on the 'Queen of the West.'

Driscoll, Margaret, and her two sisters had received £2 from their mother in America. Granted £6 on 28 July 1857.

Dennehy, Mary, received passage money from her mother in New York.

Doyle, Michael, received passage certificate, to America.

Draper, Mrs Honora, and four children had passage paid to America.

Drohan, Johanna, the Burgery, Dungarvan. She had children out at nurse for the Union and wished to give them up as her husband had sent for her to join him in America.

Downing, Mary, and her two children were granted £4 to emigrate to Boston.

Driscoll, Johanna & Bridget, they were out at nurse and had received passage money from America. They would be accompanied by an adult on the journey. Granted £3 on 28 April.

Fleming, Ellen, granted £2.10.0 emigration expenses on 11 May.

Fitzgerald, Catherine, and two children, one an infant and the other age 3 had received a passage certificate from her husband in America.

Flaherty, Mary Ann, granted £3 on 22 July.

Flynn, Catherine, and three children. She had left the Workhouse five years before with her daughter to work as domestic servants. The Master had received her passage certificate plus £2. Granted £20 on 15 February and left from Queenstown. On 5 September 1878 she applied to the Guardians for £8.11.0 to send her eldest child to New York, which was granted on 24 September.

Flynn, Ellen, applied for assistance to help her daughter Mary emigrate.

Fuge, Henry, his wife and four children (on outdoor relief for two years) were granted £7 to emigrate to New South Wales. The 'Expenses to Sydney' were granted on 30 October.

Fitzgerald, Mary Ann, The Local Government Board wrote to the Guardians to learn whether the girl's grandfather was willing to maintain her in Canada until she obtained a job. The Guardians replied that she was 'an able-bodied woman and a well trained servant and will have no trouble finding a job.' They also noted that her grandfather lived in Dungarvan. Granted £3.10.0 on 9 August.

Fennell, Kate, and family wished to emigrate to New York. Granted £14.9.0 in August. On 24 July Augustine Fennell Snr., wrote to the Guardians looking for passage money to go to America to join his son. He was asked for a guarantee that his son would support him. The Guardians refused his request. It is unclear if he was related to Kate Fennell.

Garvey, Honor, inmate age 8 from the Ringville area, had received passage money from her father in America and would be accompanied by her uncle on the journey.

Galvin, Catherine, and three children had received passage money from her husband in America. Granted £10 on 23 November.

Hughes, Mrs, required money to enable her and her five children to travel to Liverpool to join her husband, a shoemaker. No order made.

Higgins, John, applied for assistance to emigrate. No order made.

Horrigan, Eliza, and three children had received passage money from her husband in America.

Hughes, Catherine, and five children were granted £5 on 23 January to enable her to join her husband Thomas, in America. They were to depart on 21 March, but were still in Dungarvan by 11 April and the Guardians noted that they had had no communication from Thomas. 'The father who was in Cincinnati in January, has left that place and his whereabouts is now unknown.' She was granted an extra £2 for travel expenses on landing in New York.

Hearne, Mary, inmate, her passage had been paid to New York and she required £2.10.0 for an outfit. Granted on 16 April.

Hubbert, Mary, inmate, had her passage money paid by a cousin of her late husband. She required assistance for her two children which was granted on 30 June.

Harney, Mary, and three children were granted £15 emigration expenses on 29 June.

Hearne, William, granted £1 emigration expenses on 11 August.

Hallihan, Mary, inmate, granted clothes for emigration. 

Heelan, Patrick, a child at nurse with Hanora Maher, had received passage ticket to America. Granted £2 on 16 June.

Kelly, Ellen, had received passage money from her father and sister in America.

Kelly, Mrs Ellen, and four children applied for emigration expenses to enable her to join her husband in America. She was granted £24 on 14 July and a further £2 on 13 September.

Kennedy, Bridget, inmate, daughter of Bess Kennedy. Granted £2 for an outfit on 8 February.

Keane, Ellen, received £7 from her husband who was in America staying  with relations of hers. She required assistance to bring her children, Margaret, David, Mary, Thomas and her niece, Bridget Slattery with her. Granted £36 on 15 February.

Kavanagh, Mary Bridget. The Guardians contacted a Captain Eastaway in Youghal to obtain the address of the girl's friends in St. John's, New Brunswick.

Keily, Mrs Ellen, and two children, had received £6.6.0 from her son in America. Granted £17.9.0 on 4 August.

Keefe, Bridget, age 7 years and out at nurse. She would be supported by
friends in America if the Guardians would pay her passage and would be accompanied on the voyage by a relative. She had not left by February of the following year and the minutes note that she would not leave for several more months.

Kiely, Mary and John, inmates, granted £11.16.0 emigration expenses.

Kennedy, Mary, inmate, passage money had been paid by her daughter in America. Granted £2.10.0 on 19 September.

Kiely, Mary, and her daughter had their passage money paid by relatives in America. Granted £6 on 5 June.

Kennedy, Margaret, inmate, age 21. Her sister would meet her on arrival in New York. Granted £1 landing allowance on 27 May.

Leahy, Mary, received six shillings from friends in Liverpool.

Lyons, Jeremiah, Margaret and Thomas, children, had their passage paid by their mother. Granted £7.10.0 on 9 April.

Leahy, Charles, inmate, had been three years in hospital. He wished to join his brother (a clerk) in Liverpool. 'He is about 20 years old, in delicate health, but a good writer and fair accountant.' Granted 30 shillings for clothes.

Meade, Johanna, had received £4 from her aunt in Montreal. 'To be accompanied by Dr. Halley's (Parish Priest of Dungarvan) servant.'

Morrissey, Mary, and two step-children had received £2 from her daughter in America. Ordered to be discharged.

Murray, Michael, received passage certificate from his son in America.

Mountain, Bridget, and four children to emigrate to her husband in West Australia.

McCarthy, Anne, had received passage certificate and money from her husband in America and was ordered to be discharged.

Murphy, Margaret, and three children had passage money paid to America.

Morrissey, Ellen, and her grandchild had received passage certificates to America.

Murray, Bridget and three children had passage money paid by her husband in America.

McGrath, Bridget, from Cappagh, was granted £4 on 25 August.

Morrissey, Ellen, widow. The Relieving Officer reported that she had been receiving two shillings a week on outdoor relief but had left for America leaving her children with her sister.

Mountain, Kate, widow, had her passage paid to America. Required passage money for her children. Granted £7 on 12 August.

McCarthy, Hanora, widow, had her passage paid by friends in America.  Granted £10 for passage certificates and clothes for her three children on 13 May.

McGrath, Margaret, and four children granted £26.12.6 on 7 December.

Moore, Mrs Bridget, 'inmate for the last year', and three children had received a passage ticket from her husband. She required £12 expenses for the children.

Malone, Margaret, and four children under 12 years, inmates. Their passage had been paid by friends in America. Granted £14.8.0 and an extra £2.16.0 for her daughter Margaret on 6 April.

Mansfield, Margaret, and her sister Mary had received passage certificates to America. Granted £3 for outfits on 11 June.

Mansfield, Margaret, and three children. Granted £4 for outfits to enableher to join her husband in America on 18 May.

Morrissey, Ellen, age 15, granted £2 emigration expenses on 29 August.

Meehan, Mary, inmate, and her eldest daughter, had received passage money from her husband in America. She required passage money for her other six children. Application refused.

March 1853
Neill, Nicholas and Bridget, from the East Division of Ringville, had received £10 from their father in America. They were ordered to be removed from the Workhouse.

Nowlan, Bridget, child, had her passage paid by her parents in New York.

Nagle, Johanna, received passage certificate to America.

Nugent, widow, sent a letter from America asking that her two children who were inmates, age 8 and 6, be sent out to her. Their aunt to accompany them to New York. The Master sanctioned £16 expenses for the Nugent children on 23 April.

Noonan, Thomas, a smith by trade had his passage paid to America. Granted £3 on 17 February.

Power, James, and family were granted emigration expenses (amount not stated).

Power, Honora, inmate, had received passage certificate to America. Granted £3 for an outfit on 17 February.

Power, Ellen, and two children, inmates, had their passage paid by friends in America. Granted £4 on 30 November.

Power, Thomas, age 15 and an inmate of the Workhouse since infancy, had received passage ticket from his mother in America. Granted £2 expenses on 29 August.

Quinlan, Margaret, and three children had received passage tickets from
her husband in America.

Robinson, Mary, and seven children had received £1 from her husband  James in Liverpool. They departed from Waterford on 6 July.

Reynolds, R. Laurence, left to go to his sister in England.

Reynolds, Margaret, and her husband Laurence had received £5 from her sister in Canada. As the sailing ships had ceased voyages for the winter the Guardians gave them the extra money to enable them to travel by steamship.

Ronayne, Bridget, had received passage money for herself and one of her children from her sister in New York. She required £13 for expenses for her and the other four children.

Reardon, Ellen and two children had their passage paid to Victoria.   

Roach, Margaret, and children had received passage money from her husband in America.

Ronayne, Kate, a deserted child age 6. Granted £6 emigration expenses on 8 June. Her sister, age 18, had received a passage ticket from their mother.

Roache, Kate, received passage money from her sister in Boston. Granted £2 on 21 January.

Slattery, Patrick and Honora, children, required passage money. Their mother's passage had been paid by her sister in Boston.

Sullivan, Honora, had received a passage certificate from her uncle in America.

Sullivan, Bridget, age 18 and her brother Jeremiah age 14, had their passage paid by their sister in America. Bridget had been 10 years in the Workhouse and her brother had been there since infancy. Granted £10 on 17 October.

Stack, Margaret, and six children from the Dromore East Division, granted £4 on 6 May.

Somers, Alice, and two children, John and Mary granted £5.3.0 on 7 August.

Troy, Catherine, received passage certificate from her brother in America.   

Whelan, Anne, and two children received £12 from her husband in America.

Walsh, Catherine, received passage certificate to New York.    

White, Michael and Mary Anne, inmates, granted a suit of clothes each. They were going to Cardiff to join their mother and brother.

Walsh, Mary Anne, and six children had received £12 from her husband in America. Granted £12 on 12 June.

This appendice on mortality within the union is made available as a download due to the large number of tables it contains. It gives statistics for male, female and infant mortality in the workhouse and union, rates of death in different years and seasons, causes of death and draws some conclusions from the statistics.

Finance Within The Poor Law Union
This appendice on finance within the poor law union is made available as a download due to the large number of tables it contains. It gives information and statistics on union rates struck, expenditure, contracts entered into with suppliers, average cost of keeping an inmate, workhouse staff salaries and bills recieved from suppliers.
Out Door Relief
The Poor Law stated that relief could only be given to persons who entered the Workhouse. There were two conditions that had to be fulfilled before any aid was given to the poverty stricken; firstly the applicant had to be destitute and secondly the applicant had to reside in the Workhouse. If a destitute person had a family then the entire family was obliged to enter the Workhouse. Relief would only be given to inmates of the Workhouse and under no circumstances would any aid be given to people not entering the Workhouse.

The Dungarvan Poor Law Union disregarded this rule when the extent of the famine became clear to them and they proceeded to distribute aid to those who were not inmates of the house.

This appendice on Out Door Relief within the Union is made available as a download due to the large number of tables it contains. It gives information and statistics on Out Door Relief numbers and costs for the different districts of the Poor Law Union.

Admissions And Discharges
This appendice on admissions and discharges within the union is made available as a download due to the number of tables it contains. It gives statistics for admissions, deaths, average numbers in the workhouse, and maxima and minima between 1845 and 1855.

The download can be viewed with Microsoft Word. If you do not have a version of Microsoft Word installed on your computer you can download a free Microsoft Word Viewer from the Microsoft Web Site.



  1. Burke, Helen, The People and the Poor Law in 19th. Century Ireland. England, 1987. pp. 262-271.
  2. Power, Cannon Patrick, Parochial History of Waterford and Lismore during the 18th. and 19th. Centuries.
  3. ibid.


Author: William Fraher

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