Kilrush Union Minute
1997, ISBN: 1 900545 01 2, Hardback,
This publication is out of print.
The Kilrush Union Minute Books contain
the minutes of the weekly meetings of the Board of Guardians of the Kilrush
Union Workhouse. The weekly minutes contain tables of statistics relating
- The number of inmates in the Workhouse,
Auxilliaries & Hospital
- The numbers of Persons relieved out
of the Workhouse
- The amount of Rates collected for
- The requirements of Relieving Officers.
They also contain information as follows:
- The cost of an inmate for one week
- Estimate of Provisions needed for
- Financial report of Bills paid
- Day to day business involved in running
the workhouse and union.
Poor Law Union
The first inmates were received into the newly-completed workhouse at
Kilrush on 9 July 1842, a building erected to cater for a maximum of 800
inmates, or ‘paupers’. The Poor Law Union, the hinterland
for the workhouse, whose destitute inhabitants it was intended to serve,
contained a population of 82,353 persons according to the 1841 census,
spread out over a geographical area of nearly 116,000 acres, extending
into three baronies. With total property valuation of only £59,000,
even before the first failure of the potato crop in 1845, the Kilrush
Union was one of the most impoverished areas of the west of Ireland. During
the years of the Famine, its people suffered on a horrendous scale, and
tens of thousands died from the effects of starvation and disease. The
suffering of the people of Kilrush Union accelerated after the Poor Law
Extension Act of 1847 placed financial and administrative responsibility
for relief of distress entirely on the poor law, which could not remotely
support the burden.
From its first declaration
as a union in 1839 until March of 1848, Kilrush was governed, like all
unions in Ireland, by a Board of Guardians. The guardians decided on the
level of the poor law rate, the property tax which funded the union’s
operations, they appointed the different officials who actually ran the
workhouse and supervised their management through meetings, and made final
decisions also on individual applications for admittance to the workhouse.
The minutes provide
and essential supplement to the many other documents which illuminate
the history of the Kilrush Union in this period. Largely due to Captain
Kennedy’s efforts at publicising what was happening in Kilrush,
there exists a greater body of material for study than perhaps for any
other union in Ireland.
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