Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union was established under the Poor Law (Ireland) Act 1838. Under this legislation, the country was divided into one hundred and thirty-seven poor law unions. The unions were controlled centrally by the poor law commissioners until 1872 when the Local Government Board was established. Each union was run by a board of guardians whose duty was to oversee the running of each workhouse.
The 1838 Act gave a number of powers to the Commissioners, and through them to the Boards, including to employ staff to collect rates and in the administration of the 'relief and management of the destitute poor' and to build workhouses 'for any Union not having a Workhouse', or to purchase or lease land for such a building and to maintain the workhouses.
The Guardians were granted the power to 'relieve and set to work….the destitute poor as by reason of old age, infirmity or defect may be unable to support themselves, and destitute children….[and others] who cannot 'support themselves by their own industry, or by other lawful means'. Part of the Act made it a responsibility of the Guardians to provide Register Books detailing those admitted into and relieved by the workhouses. The Act also compels each Union to maintain detailed accounts.
Relief granted to individuals under the act was deemed to be a loan and recoverable as such. No-one had a statutory right to relief under the Act, it was to be granted under the Boards' discretion, though under an amending act in 1847, when the Famine was creating a terrible toll on lives, the right to relief of certain groups, including the destitute, was recognised, and at this time, outdoor relief sanctioned.
In Donegal there were eight unions, Ballyshannon, Donegal, Dunfanaghy, Glenties, Inishowen, Letterkenny, Milford and Stranorlar.
Archival History ↴
The archives of Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union were held in the Courthouse in Lifford until the establishment of Donegal County Archives in 1999.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Dunfanaghy Board of Guardians ↴
The surviving archives of Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act.
Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Dunfanaghy Board of Guardians from August 1841 to September 1922 (BG/81/1/1 – BG/81/1/69); a file of correspondence, 1914 – 1915 (BG/81/3/1); a minute book of the proceedings of the committee acting as the Rural Sanitary Authority under the Labourers’ Acts, 1897 – 1906 (BG/81/3/2); a medical officer’s report book for Dunfanaghy Dispensary District, giving dates; time of arrival at the dispensary; time of departure from the dispensary, and reports on any matter requiring attention from the Committee, 1870 – 1899; an indoor relief register for Dunfanaghy workhouse, giving names and status of persons, whether married or single, age, previous abode (generally gives district or townland); religion, employment or calling, whether disable, date discharged from workhouse or died, 1891 – 1915 (BG/81/3/6).
Appraisal Destruction ↴
No further accruals are expected.
The collection is arranged in the following order: minute books, correspondence, labourers’ acts minute book, relief register.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Bound volumes cannot be photocopied. Digitisation allowed under certain circumstances.