Ardee poor law union Board of Guardians

Repository: Louth County Archives Service

Identity Statement

TitleArdee poor law union Board of Guardians
Archive ReferenceIE LHA BG/ARD/
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1840, [1840s], 1851-1925 (1943)
Extent Medium255 items consisting largely of bound volumes


Creator(s): Board of Guardians

  • Administrative History ↴

    The poor law came into effect in Ireland with the Poor Law Act of 1838 in response to the widespread poverty in the country and remained in existence until 1923. The country was divided into poor law unions each with its own workhouse. There were three such unions in county Louth: Ardee, Drogheda (sometimes called the Louth union) and Dundalk. The unions were run by a board of guardians - some elected, some appointed from among local magistrates - under the close supervision of the Poor Law Commissioners, and after 1872, the Local Government Board. A rate or 'poor rate' was collected within each area or union from property owners for the maintenance of the poor. In the 1850s, the poor law guardians became responsible for public health; in the 1860s, the boarding out of children; rural housing from 1883; and rural sanitation from 1874-1899. Ardee: Ardee poor law union included townlands within the electoral divisions of Ardee, Castlebellingham, Clonkeen, Collon, Dromin, Drumcar, Dunleer, Killany, Mansfieldstown, Stabannon, and Tallanstown in County Louth. Ardee poor law union extended into County Meath and included townlands within the electoral divisions of Grangegeeth and Drumconrath. The Ardee poor law union workhouse was opened in 1842 and it provided for 600 inmates. The workhouse in Ardee was in operation for eighty years when it ceased to function as a workhouse in June 1922 due to it having been taken over by the state as temporary accommodation for refugees from Northern Ireland.
  • Archival History ↴

    Control of the poor law guardians was achieved partly through record keeping and partly through inspection, thus resulting in the creation of large quantities of archives, the most voluminous of which are the minute books: an almost complete run from Jul 1839 - Apr 1924 exists for Dundalk poor law union, along with other miscellaneous poor law archives; an almost complete run exists for Ardee poor law union (there are a few volumes in private hands); and a quantity of minutes exist for Drogheda poor law union (the remainder of the surviving minutes are in Millmount Museum, Drogheda). The guardians were obliged to send returns to the central authority; however, many of these were destroyed in the Custom House in 1921, while other poor law union archives were destroyed down through the years. Subsequent to 1923, many of the workhouses became county homes or hospitals, as in the case of Ardee and Drogheda. The poor law archives are an invaluable research resource for local historians, students and genealogists and by having the three unions of County Louth accessible together in the County Archives Service, their research value is enhanced as researchers can cross-reference. The archives cover the period from famine through to independence and provide information on the social and economic conditions of the poor law unions. Ardee: The Ardee poor law union archive material was held in Ardee Branch Library prior to being transferred to Louth County Archives Service in 2000.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Board of Guardians ↴

    The administration sub-sub-fonds contains a diary of the clerk of the union, 1888 (BG/ARD/ADM/001); a series of correspondence books, 1891 – 1911 (BG/ARD/ADM/002/), jurors lists (BG/ARD/ADM/003/), a lease of site for Ardee workhouse, 1840 (BG/ARD/ADM/004), and a book containing newspaper cuttings of advertisements and notices, 1900 – 1920 (BG/ARD/ADM/005).

    The dispensary sub-sub-fonds contains two minute books of the Collon and Castlebellingham Dispensary Districts, 1852 – 1899(BG/ARD/DIS/).

    The finance sub-sub-fonds (BG/ARD/FIN/) contains various ledgers, financial statement books, receipt & expenditure books, financial day books, abstracts of accounts dating from late 19thC – early 20thC; a seed supply book detailing occupiers of land and quantities of seed supplied, 1880 (BG/ARD/FIN/002); a wages book detailing wages issued to washerwomen and assistants in the laundry, the garden labourer, seamstress, and assistant nurse, 1889 – 1919 (BG/ARD/FIN/005); (BG/ARD/FIN/007); and other miscellaneous records such as postage account books, a requirement book kept by the clerk of the union, and an Ardee union register of deductions & contributions under the National Health Insurance Act, 1911 providing names of employees originally of workhouse, fever hospital and infirmary staff, and subsequently of all hospital staff, 1912 – 1925 (- 1943) (BG/ARD/FIN/012).

    The housing sub-sub-fonds contains a ‘receipt & payment book’, with one page listing tenants for the townlands of Ballinurd, Belrobin, and Barronstown, 1913 – 1919 (BG/ARD/HSG/001).

    The minute books sub-sub-fonds contains a series of general minute books, 1851 – 1924 (BG/ARD/MB/001/); a series of rough minute books, 1851 – 1880 (BG/ARD/MB/002/); a series of Rural Sanitary Authority minute books, 1886 – 1899 (BG/ARD/MB/003/); a minute book under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1881 – 1892 (BG/ARD/MB/004); and a meetings attendance book, 1908 – 1914 (BG/ARD/MB/005).

    The rate books sub-sub-fonds contains several series of poor law rate books for the electoral divisions of Mansfieldstown, Clonkeen, Castlebellingham, Grangegeeth, Collon, Drumcar, and Dunleer, late 19thC (BG/ARD/RB/).

    The valuation books sub-sub-fonds contains several valuation books for the electoral divisions of Dromin, Castlebellingham, Stabannon, Ardee, Clonkeen, Mansfieldstown, Collon, Drumcar, Dunleer, Grangegeeth, Killary, and Tallanstown, [1840s – 1860s] (BG/ARD/VB/).

    The workhouse administration sub-sub-fonds contains a return of tobacco issued to inmates, 1883 – 1924 (BG/ARD/WA/001); a series of porters books, 1907 – 1917 (BG/ARD/WA/002/); a visitors book of Ardee workhouse, 1909 (BG/ARD/WA/003); and a report of the Visiting Committee to Ardee workhouse, 1923 (BG/ARD/WA/004).

    The workhouse infirmary sub-sub-fonds contains a series of fever hospital daily diet books for the sick detailing statistics on type of diet and food provided, 1914 – 1923 (BG/ARD/WI/001/); a series of medical weekly return & extra books, 1921 – 1923 (BG/ARD/WI/002/); and a series of index books [possibly of names in death register], 1880s – 1890s (BG/ARD/WI/003/).

    The workhouse relief sub-sub-fonds contains a series of indoor & outdoor relief books, 1899 – 1902, 1913 – 1915, 1920 – 1922 (BG/ARD/WR/001/); a series of outdoor relief lists for Ardee workhouse providing statistical details, 1884 – 1885, 1901 – 1924 (BG/ARD/WR/002/); a book of casuals admission & discharge book of Ardee workhouse, 1912 – 1913 (BG/ARD/WR/003); and a series of outdoor relief order, admission & discharge books of Ardee workhouse, 1915 – 1922 (BG/ARD/WR/004/).

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    Further accruals are not expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    The Board of Guardians collection is divided into three sub-fonds which are akin to the three unions: Ardee, Drogheda, and Dundalk. These sub-fonds are then further subdivided into sub-sub-fonds such as administration, dispensary, finance, housing, minute books, rate books, valuation books, workhouse administration, workhouse Infirmary, and workhouse relief. Within each sub-sub-fonds, archives are arranged into series and items, which are arranged in chronological order as far as possible.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open Access, by appointment
Conditions Governing ReproductionMany items may be copied. Bound volumes cannot be photocopied. Copying can be discussed further with the County Archivist.
Creation Dates1840, [1840s], 1851-1925 (1943)
Extent Medium255 items consisting largely of bound volumes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Characteristics Tech ReqGenerally fair-good condition. However, some bound volumes are in poor condition. A large quantity of minute books have been conserved with financial assistance from the Heritage Council. Some of the archives in this collection require careful handling.
Finding Aids Descriptive list can be found on on-line catalogue available at Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Originals InformationLouth County Archives Service
Copies InformationSome digitised documents may occasionally be found on
Related MaterialRDC/ARD/ BG/DDK/ BG/DRO/
Publication NoteO’Connor, John, Workhouses of Ireland: The fate of Ireland’s poor (Anvil, Dublin 1995) O’Sullivan, Harold, A History of Local Government in Louth: from earliest times to the present time (IPA, Dublin 2000)

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteLorraine McCann
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions2004-2011