Stranorlar 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 Stranorlar Poor Law Union were held at the Courthouse, Lifford until the establishment of the Donegal County Archives Service, in 1999.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Stranorlar Board of Guardians ↴
The surviving archives of Stranorlar Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act. Stranorlar Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Stranorlar Board of Guardians from March 1845 to July 1922 (BG/147/1/1 – BG/147/1/50); rough minutes (drafts) of minutes from 1852 to 1902 (BG/147/2/1 – BG/147/2/12 ); labourers minute book, giving the minutes of the proceedings of the Committee acting as the Rural Sanitary Authority under the Labourers’ Acts, 1895 – 1899 (BG/147/3/1); correspondence, notes and financial documentation relating to Stranorlar Poor Law Union, 1845 – 1922 (BG/147/3/2- BG/147/3/42); minutes of the committee of management for the dispensary districts of Killygordan and Stranorlar, giving monthly minutes of each meeting, on issues such as the dispensing of medicines and organisation of premises for the dispensary, and the employment of a medical officer (BG/147/4/1 –BG/147/4/2).
Appraisal Destruction ↴
No further accruals expected.
The collection is arranged in the following order: minutes of meetings; rough minutes; correspondence; medical material.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Photocopying of bound volumes not permitted. Digitisation of archives permitted under certain circumstances.
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Bound volumes need to be handled with care. In general access is to microfilms only.