Donaghmore Workhouse Laois

Donaghmore Workhouse, Laois

today, a Museum.

On the day that we kidnapped my American friends we took them to the final venue, Donaghmore Workhouse which is now a Museum.  Most of the Workhouse is now a Museum containing material collected over the years.

I have one photograph of Dorene Allen holding the lid of a pan.  That particular pan had been donated to the Workhouse/Museum by a lady after whom Dorene had been named.  The spelling of her first name is a bit different, but Dorene was named after Doreen Squires who had donated the pan.

When families entered the Workhouse they were broken up.  Very young children could stay with their mothers but when they were a few years old they were separated out to the children’s quarters.  What must it have been like to be in a building 2 minutes away from the one your Mammy was in and not be able to see her?  Donaghmore Workhouse is a very sad place as are all workhouses.

There is little to say about any of these photographs.  Once again, in some instances the light was not good for taking a photo.

The colours of equipment that you see in these photos are exactly as they were painted when they were created.

A lot of this equipment was upstairs in what was the Girls dormitory.  There are wooden panels lying down the centre of the floor and it was in this area that the straw for the girls to sleep on lay.




Breakfast was timed for 9am which consisted of a half pint of milk and 8oz of bread per inmate.  Bread was supplied by H. Odlum in 4lb loaves – 6.5d for white and 7d for brown.

d. = 1 penny
s.= Shilling.  12 d = 1 shilling

The Inmates frequently complained about the poor quality of the milk, that it was often blue, thick and sour.

Milk was supplied at 7d per gallon.

Lunch consisted of 8oz of bread and soup. Potatoes were used for thickening this soup, when available. At nearly 7 shillings a barrel i.e. 20 stone, they were expensive.  Flour was also used as a potato substitute at a rate of 12 oz per gallon.

Meat was sometimes used – there were 5 different types.  Officers meat, Paupers meat, Coarse meat, Hospital meat, and Meat for Soup.

Coarse beef – 3d per pound
Sheeps head – 7d each
Cows head – 1 shilling and 9d each
Hocks of beef – 3d per pound.

On special days such as Christmas and Easter Sunday Paupers were given a tea breakfast and a meat dinner.

For the evening meal, stirabout was served. Sometimes it was made of Indian meal and rice, but usually made of Indian meal and oat meal.  It was made of 4lb of meal and 2lb of rice in ten gallon of water.


Amongst the poorer people clothing amounted to little more than rags. Any decent clothes were given to the men at the fair.  Women scarcely ever wore shoes.

Suits were made for 5 shillings and 6d each and a local Tailor gave instructions for boys on how to repair clothes.

A Shoe maker was paid 7 shillings and 6d for making mens shoes, 5 shillings for women and 3 shillings 6d for children.

Oaten straw was used for puffing mattresses at 3 shillings and 6d per cuit.


A school was in operation in Donaghmore from 1853.  A Mr. Tuck was the first Teacher appointed.  A Miss Bergin was appointed School Mistress in 1862 on a salary of £7 and 7 shillings per year.  She was highly regarded by the Inspectors of the time. She was given 4lbs of chalk and snuffer tray and was regarded as being highly efficient.