Bandon Board of Guardians

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleBandon Board of Guardians
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/BG/42
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1839-1925
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium118 items, mainly volumes


Creator(s): Bandon Board of Guardians

  • Administrative History ↴

    The first meeting of Bandon Board of Guardians took place on 4 March 1839. The Union Workhouse opened on 17 November 1841. An Order of 3 October 1849 altered the union, with parts of Bandon Union being given to Dunmanway and the newly-created Clonakilty Union, and parts from Macroom Union being added to Bandon. A Reservation Order of 12 December 1849 reserved a quarter of the accommodation on Bandon Workhouse for inmates from Clonakilty Union, pending the completion of that Union’s own workhouse. Unions were divided into electoral divisions (EDs) for electoral and rate collection purposes. Over time, larger dispensary districts and relief districts, consisting of several EDs, came into being. The Bandon Union consisted of the Dispensary Districts of Bandon, Innishannon, Templemartin, Murragh, and Kilbrittain. Each district had a medical officer and dispensary. On 29 November 1849 a new Union fever hospital opened, the fever hospital and dispensary in the town of Bandon having previously been run by a local committee. The Union had taken over these services some months prior to the opening of the hospital, as the committee was unable to continue to finance them against the backdrop of the Great Famine (1845-49). Each workhouse was managed by a staff and officers under the charge of a workhouse master, who reported to the board. Overall responsibility rested with the union's board of guardians, some of whom were elected, and some of whom were ex-officio members appointed usually from amongst local magistrates. The board appointed its own inhouse committees, and received reports from workhouse officers and from dispensary district committees and district medical officers. It also made resolutions on internal and poor law matters and, sometimes, on wider political or social issues. Poor law services were principally financed by a poor rate levied on property owners in the union’s districts, and collected by rate collectors appointed by the board. Central government also provided loans. From 1899 on, the newly-created Cork County Council collected rates and funded Cork boards of guardians based on an annual estimate and demand. Each union was under the central supervision of the Poor Law Commissioners up to 1874 and thereafter of the Local Government Board (later Local Government Board for Ireland). These government-appointed bodies received reports from the board and its officers, appointed inspectors and auditors, sanctioned or rejected proposed expenditure, appointments, and policies, and made the final decision on major administrative issues. On 12 February 1921 the board resolved to sever its connection with the LGB and accept the authority of Dail Eireann. The responsibilities of the guardians increasingly encompassed public health, and to medical relief for the destitute at the workhouse and ‘outdoor’ relief though a system of dispensary districts were added other functions including overseeing smallpox vaccinations, the boarding-out of orphan and deserted children, monitoring contagious diseases in animals, and providing labourers’ cottages and improved sanitation. The workhouse buildings included an infirmary and a fever hospital. The workhouse also provided nursery care and education to child inmates, and employed school teachers. Hospital and other medical services were available to all, not just the poor, although the latter received free treatment when inmates, or through the system of tickets issued by relieving officers and medical officers. The guardians’ changing responsibilities were governed by legislation, including the Public Health (Ireland) Acts 1874 and 1878, Medical Charities Acts, Vaccination Acts, Dispensary Houses Act, the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts (1848-49), Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act 1878, and Labourers’ Acts (1883-86). While these acts tended to increase the role of the board, the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 saw rate collection and many of its public health functions taken over by the newly-created Cork County Council and the Bandon Rural District Council. The board continued to administer the workhouse and its hospital, and to supervise dispensary services, outdoor relief, and the boarding out of children. On 23 June 1921 the main workhouse building and several other buildings were destroyed by a fire started by ‘a party of men’. The workhouse was never to reopen, with infirm inmates maintained in the dispensary, and able-bodied inmates discharged or sent to Clonakilty Workhouse. On 2 June 1923 the National Army gave notice that it was occupying the remaining buildings, and the board and RDC moved to offices at the Green, Bandon. The Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923 led to the abolition of the workhouse system, and its replacement with the formation of the county boards of health and public assistance. The last recorded meeting of Bandon Board of Guardians took place on 19 April 1924.
  • Archival History ↴

    The surviving records of the Bandon Board of Guardians were deposited in the Archives in the early 1980s.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Bandon Board of Guardians ↴

    The minutes of Bandon Board of Guardians (BG/42/A) provide one of the most extensive records of the period of the Great Famine (1845-49) as it was experienced in West Cork, one of the most severely affected regions in the country. Whereas several other west Cork unions only came into being in 1849-50, the Bandon Union was in existence from 1839 until its abolition in 1924 (only three volumes in the series are missing). Its dealings with the other unions in the region, especially at their creation and in the final years of the workhouse system, are also well documented. For instance, a quarter of places in Bandon Workhouse were reserved for Clonakilty inmates prior to completion of the Clonakilty workhouse in 1851. After Bandon workhouse was burned down in 1921, remaining inmates not discharged were transferred to Clonakilty. The ordinary minutes include statistical information on workhouse inmates and details of workhouse life and administration. From the 1850s the volumes contain minutes of proceedings under the Medical Charities Acts and, from the 1870s, the Public Health Acts, documenting the board’s increasing role in health and sanitation, and the work of dispensaries and medical officers in the dispensary districts. Twentieth century minute books also document the boarding out of orphaned and deserted children. The selections from the minutes summarized or quoted in the descriptive list focus on the Famine period and on the final years of the Union. Some volumes from other years are highlighted to give a sense of the work of the board of guardians at different times throughout its existence, for example, following the passing of the Public Health Act 1878, and after the radical change affected by the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, which saw Rural District Councils come into being. One draft minute book (BG/42/AA/1: 1839-1845) is also present.
    The collection also contains financial records, including general ledgers (BG/42/CA), a financial statements book (BG/42/CD), and a bank book (BG/42/CL), documenting annual accounts and daily transactions of the union, particularly in its final years.
    Also present is a Master’s Journal (BG/42/F/1) recording reports by the master of the workhouse, prepared for meetings of the board. In addition, there is a weekly tobacco account book (BG/42/FK), an unusual item documenting the distribution of tobacco to inmates by the master.
    Unfortunately, only one indoor relief register for Bandon Union is present. A note by the master (BG/42/G/1) explains that some volumes were destroyed when the workhouse burned down, and it appears that earlier volumes which escaped the fire were subsequently lost. These lost registers, noting names and other personal information on inmates, leave an incalculable gap in the historical record, particularly in terms of family history.
    The final item present is a Labourers’ Acts ledger (BG/42/SA), containing information on the acquisition of sites and the construction and letting of cottages for rural labourers in the 1880s and 1890s, shedding light on the beginnings of social housing provision in the Bandon area.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    1. Minute Books

    A1- 11 Board of Guardian Minute Books 1839-1924 (108 items)
    AA1 Rough Minute Book 1839-1845 (1 item)

    2. Accounts

    CA/1-3 Bandon Union General Ledgers 1919-1924 (3 items)
    CD/1 Financial Statements – Receipts 1915-1924 (1item)
    CL/1 Bandon Union Bank Book 1922-1924 (1 item)

    3. Workhouse: Administration

    F/1 Master’s Journal 1921-1925 (1 item)
    FK/1 Weekly Tobacco Account 1920-1925 (1 item)

    4. Workhouse: Inmates

    G/1 Indoor Relief Register 1920-1925 (1 item)

    5. Labourers’ Acts

    SA/1 Labourers’ Acts Ledger 1886-1896 (1 item)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open to researchers holding a current reader's ticket
Conditions Governing ReproductionSubject to rules governing reproduction of records of Cork City and County Archives
Creation Dates1839-1925
Level of DescriptionFonds
Extent Medium118 items, mainly volumes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialCCCA: Board of Guardian records for other poor law unions in West Cork (BG/43 Bantry; BG/59 Castletown; BG/83 Dunmanway; BG/65 Clonakilty; BG/115 Macroom; BG/145 Schull) Cork County Boards of Health and Public Assistance records, 1921-66 Bandon Rural District Council records, 1919-1925 (RDC/42) Bandon Town Commissioners Records, 1835-1918 (1650) (TC/42 [U135]) Cork County Council records, 1899- (including rates valuation books) U137 Doherty Papers, Castlebernard Estate (Earls of Bandon) Elsewhere: National Archives of Ireland: Archives of the Poor Law Commissioners Archives of the Local Government Board for Ireland Archives of the Department of Local Government

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteTimmy O’Connor
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of DescriptionsSep-11