Fermoy Board of Guardians

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleFermoy Board of Guardians
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/BG/89
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/fermoy-board-guardians
Creation Dates1870-1924
Extent Medium14 items, mainly volumes


Creator(s): Fermoy Board of Guardians

  • Administrative History ↴

    Fermoy Workhouse opened on 4 July 1841. The earliest minutes to have survived are from 1870-71. At that time, the area of the union included the dispensary districts of Fermoy, Rathcormac, Kilworth, Ballynoe, and Ballyhooly. In November 1916, the Mitchelstown and Fermoy Unions were amalgamated. The enlarged Fermoy Union area included the Rural Districts of Fermoy, Mitchelstown I, and Mitchelstown II. The Mitchelstown districts included the dispensary districts of Mitchelstown, Kildorrery and Galbally (Co Limerick). Kilbehenny dispensary house, in Mitchelstown dispensary district, was also in Co Limerick. No separate records for Mitchelstown Union exist prior to the amalgamation. The Mitchelstown workhouse building was sold in 1919. 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. 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 in 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. In October 1920 the Board resolved to ‘sever their connection with the English Local Government Board’, recognising instead the authority of Dail Eireann and its Department of Local Government. Over time, the responsibilities of the guardians increased to encompass public health, including some medical relief for the destitute at the workhouse, ‘outdoor’ relief though a system of dispensary districts, and 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 a fever hospital, and fever sheds were created in local districts when larger outbreaks occurred. The workhouse also provided education to child inmates, and employed school teachers. These 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 Act, Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act 1878, and Labourers’ Acts. While these acts tended to increase the role of the board, the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 saw most of its public health functions taken over by the newly-created Cork County Council and the Fermoy and Mitchelstown Rural District Councils. The board continued to administer the workhouse and its hospital, and to supervise some forms of outdoor relief. 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.
  • Archival History ↴

    The surviving records of the Fermoy Board of Guardians were deposited in the Archives in the early 1980s, and in an accession of records from County Council Offices, Annabella, Mallow, in 2007.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Fermoy Board of Guardians ↴

    The surviving archives of the Fermoy Board of Guardians consist of minute books from 1870-71, 1899, and most of the years from 1905 to 1924 (BG/89/A/1-40). It is most unfortunate that nearly all 19th century minute books have not survived, and that no records are thought to exist of Mitchelstown Union prior to its amalgamation with Fermoy in 1916. The minute books present, however, do document the provision of poor relief and rural dispensary services in the first quarter of the twentieth century, and are an important record, for instance, of the care of orphaned and boarded-out children, deserted families, and the disabled and mentally ill. The amalgamation of Mitchelstown Union, including districts from Co Limerick, with Fermoy Union was a significant late development in the Poor Law history of south Munster. The minutes also reflect national political developments and local experiences of them, and shed some light on topics such as the Great War, and the Influenza epidemics of 1919.
    The only other record present, a receipts and payments book (BG/89/CF/1: 1918-25), provides some useful background information on the financial operations of the union in a period also well documented in the surviving minutes.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    1. Minute Books

    A10-40 Board of Guardian Minute Books 1870-1924 (13 items)

    2. Financial Records

    CF1 Guardians’ Receipts and Payments Books 1918-1926 (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 Dates1870-1924
Extent Medium14 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 County Cork Cork County Boards of Health and Public Assistance records, 1921-66 Fermoy Rural District Council records, 1899-1925 Cork County Council records, 1899-1925 (including Labourers’ Cottages ledgers, 1887- ) Elsewhere: National Archives of Ireland: Archives of the Poor Law Commissioners Archives of the Local Government Board in 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 Descriptions40603