Inishowen 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 surviving archives of Inishowen Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act.
Inishowen Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians from November 1840 to May 1922; , administered by way of loan, 1844 - 1873; diet and clothing registers, 1906 - 1921; indoor relief registers and admission and discharge registers which give the date when admitted to or born in the workhouse, if previously relieved, name, address, gender, age, marital status, if child legitimate, illegitimate or deserted, employment e.g. tramp, religion, name of spouse and number of children if not in workhouse, details of condition and when discharged or died, 1906 - 1921.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Inishowen Board of Guardians ↴
The surviving archives of Inishowen Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act. The workhouse for Inishowen was in the town of Carndonagh. Inishowen Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Inishowen Board of Guardians from November 1840 to May 1922 (BG/97/1/1 – BG/97/1/61); admission and discharge registers and indoor relief registers for Inishowen workhouse, giving names and status of persons, whether married or single, age, previous abode (district or townland); religion, employment or calling, whether disabled, date discharged from workhouse or died, 1843 – 1918 (BG/97/3/1 – BG/97/3/5); day book for Carndonagh, Inishowen Workhouse, giving date of receipt of goods, name of persons or firm supplying goods, particulars (’42 qts sweetmilk’, ‘9 lbs butter’ etc.,); provision account, clothing account, farm account, burial account and other account, date when invoice was certified for payment; initials of officer certifying payment, 1907 – 1909 (BG/97/3/7); outdoor relief and admission and discharge register, giving details as follows: names, whether disabled, widows with two or more legitimate children, persons relieved, orphaned or deserted children, value of relief ordered or allowed by Board of Guardians, type of relief: whether money or in kind and for what time allowed, 1908 – 1911 (BG/97/3/8); accounts, giving details of suppliers and goods purchased by Board of Guardians, 1892 – 1925 (BG/97/3/6 – BG/97/3/7).
Appraisal Destruction ↴
No further accruals expected.
The collection is arranged in the following order: minutes of meetings, registers, financial material.
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 fragile and need to be handled with care. In general access is to microfilms only.
All Dunfanaghy Poor Law Union archives have been microfilmed for preservation and access.
RDC/5 Inishowen Rural District Council
UDC/2 Buncrana Urban District Council
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions