Glenties 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 Glenties Poor Law Union were held in the Courthouse in Lifford prior to the establishment of Donegal County Archives in 1999.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Glenties Board of Guardians ↴
The surviving archives of Glenties Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act.
Glenties Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Glenties Board of Guardians from September 1841 to May 1922 (BG/92/1/1 – BG/92/1/84); admission and discharge registers and indoor relief registers for Glenties workhouse, giving names and status of persons, marital status, age, previous abode, religion, employment or calling, whether disabled, date discharged from workhouse or died, 1851 – 1921 (BG/92/3/1 –BG/92/3/4); and a register of persons admitted to and discharged from Glenties fever hospital, giving names, addresses, religion, gender, child or adult, employment (e.g., ‘farmer’, ‘knitter’ etc), nature of illness, amount of loan issued, arrears due and if irrecoverable.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
No further accruals expected.
The collection is arranged in the following order: minutes of meetings, registers.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Photocopying of bound volumes not permitted. Digitisation allowed under certain circumstances.
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Bound volumes are delicate and must be handled with care. In general, access is to microfilms only.
All Glenties Poor Law Union archives have been microfilmed for preservation and access.
BG/81 Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union
RDC/4 Glenties Rural District Council
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions