Dungarvan Poor Law Union was established under the Poor Law Union Act, 1838. Under this Act the country was divided into poor law unions each of which had a Workhouse run by elected and ex-officio guardians. These guardians were supervised by the Poor Law Commissioners and after 1872, the Local Government Board. The Poor law system has gained a dark reputation due to the fact that only the most destitute were granted ‘indoor relief’ and entry into the Workhouse was contingent on it being a last resort rather than a source of hope and comfort. The Workhouses were unable to cope with the fast flood of the destitute that was a result of the famine and they became overcrowded and contributed to the death toll due to the swift spread of disease through their packed wards. Over the years the Board of Guardians acquired further duties in relation to the poor. In the 1850s they accumulated duties in the area of public health, boarding out of children in the 1860s and rural housing from 1883.The Medical Charities Act of 1851 introduced the dispensary system which provided for the appointment of a medical doctor, the provision of a dispensary and the supply of medicines and medical appliances for a number of districts in each Union. The work of the dispensary was overseen by the Dispensary Committee, which was composed of Guardians and local rate payers elected on an annual basis. In 1878 the Public Health (Ireland) Act established the Dungarvan Board of Guardians as a Rural Sanitary Authority adding further duties in relation to sanitation and public health to their workload. The work of the Board of Guardians was funded by the Poor Rate which the Guardians were empowered to levy in the Union. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 this power passed to Waterford County Council. The Guardians then applied to the Council for funds until they ceased to exist in 1923.
Archival History ↴
A number of the Minute Books for Dungarvan Poor Law Union were rescued from destruction by John Young, local historian, who presented them to Waterford County Library Service for safekeeping until the Archives Service was established. More of the volumes were in the custody of the Dungarvan Museum Society and were presented to the Archives Service on its establishment.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Dungarvan Board of Guardians ↴
The archives of Dungarvan Poor Law Union provide evidence of the running of the Workhouse and the provision of out-door relief through the Minute Books for the meetings of the Board of Guardians (BG/DUNGN/1 – 122). Evidence of the provision of public health care and sanitation is provided in the Minutes of the proceedings under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1878 (BG/DUNGN/126) and notices such as that from the Local Government Board regarding the steps to take to avoid influenza and to prevent the spread of the disease (BG/DUNGN/130). These archives provide a social, economic and political history of Dungarvan Union and provide a record of individuals who would otherwise remain unrecorded. The archives touch on political and socio-economic matters in the local and national arena. For example, a resolution was passed by the Guardians denouncing the attack by the armed forces on a crowd in Mitchelstown, County Cork (BG/DUNGN/55) and a resolution was passed declaring the need to establish an Industrial School for a group of minors to secure their future and to protect them from the ‘…evil influences of a workhouse’ (BG/DUNGN/62). Provides information regarding the state of the Workhouse recording the number of able bodied males and females, the number of aged and infirm, boys and girls 9 – 15, children 5 – 9, 2 – 5 and infants under two. Details the number of inmates admitted weekly and those discharged or who died during
the week. Provides a return of the sick and lunatics and of destitute persons relieved out of the Workhouse. Details the accounts of the Workhouse, Infirmary and Fever Hospital and the requirements of the relieving officer and the clothing establishment, workhouse invoice and outdoor relief invoice accounts. Records the report of the Visiting Committee, the Clerk’s Report, the Master’s Report, the Agriculture Report and the orders and letters received from or sent to the Poor Law Guardians, later orders and letters are received from and sent to the Local Government Board (BG/DUNGN/37).Details any special business or resolutions of the guardians. Records the casuals or night lodgers, male and female and the children under fifteen relieved weekly (BG/DUNGN/37). Includes reports from the Catholic and Protestant chaplains. No information is in the section relating to the proceedings under the Medical Charities Acts. Some information regarding the dispensary districts and their supply and the report of the Medical Officer are recorded in the main body of minutes. Limited information is recorded under the proceedings of the Board as Rural Sanitary Authority (BG/DUNGN/53). Information is recorded in the printed forms provided in the Minute Books recording the proceedings of the Medical Charities Acts (BG/DUNGN/79). Index to resolutions and orders.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The collection has been arranged with the minute books for meetings of the board of guardians in date order followed by a set of Rough Minute Books for the period 1848-1870, Minutes under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1878 and correspondence and notes in date order.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Bound volumes cannot be photocopied.
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Bound volumes, care required to protect damaged binding on some volumes. Consult the archivist
BG/LISM Lismore Board of Guardians, BG/KILTHOM Kilmacthomas Board of Guardians, BG/WATFD Waterford Board of Guardians
Descriptive Control Area
IGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009.
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997.