'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.



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Forum Home > How Each County Was Affected "The Great Hunger" > County Carlow - Ceatharlach / Co. Cheatharlaigh

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This note is for Co Carlow During the time of 1845/50 The Great Unger

Please feel free to add any information you may have about Co Carlow 1845/50

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County Carlow (Ceatharlach, "The Four Lakes")


Carlow is the second smallest county in Ireland. In the north, the broad valleys of the rivers Barrow and Slaney are famed for their fertility and are intensively farmed. In the south, Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs form a natural imposing border with Wexford.


Before the Norman invasion in the twelfth century, Carlow formed the northernmost part of the Gaelic kingdom of Uí Cinnseallaigh, which also took in parts of the neighbouring counties of Wicklow and Wexford. The county was part of the lands of Dermot MacMurrough, the Leinster king who formed the first alliance with the Normans and facilitated their invasion in the twelfth century. Norman castles still stand at Carlow town, Leighlin and Tullow. In the 1798 rebellion, Carlow was the scene of some of the most bloody fighting.


In the Famine and the subsequent emigration, Carlow was badly affected; its population shrank from 86,000 in 1841 to 41,000 in 1966, a drop of 52%. Today the population stands at around 45,000

April 27, 2015 at 4:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Carlow Workhouse and the Famine

During the 1840's a new disease was found in the Irish potato crop. The first outbreak reported in County Carlow was in September 1845. At the beginning it was less virulent than in other parts of Ireland. However by the end of March 1846, it was estimated that between one third and one half the crop had been destroyed. The southern part of the county, particularly the areas around Borris, were the worst affected. By May 1846 the price of potatoes in Carlow had risen to fifteen shillings per barrel. This was about three times the normal rate. The situation continued to worsen rapidly. At the end of 1846 the crop had completely failed and no potatoes were available in the County.


During 1846, distress and destitution were widespread around County Carlow. Unemployment was increasing among the labouring classes. The rate was as high as fifty per cent in the Clonmore-Hacketstown area and up to eighty per cent in Borris.

Schemes of public works were established in order to provide monetary relief. Local schemes were sanctioned at a presentments session in May 1846, but there were delays in implementation. A presentment was a grant given by a grand jury (the precursors of County Councils) for the construction or repair of roads or buildings. They were financed by the County cess at special presentment sessions. Clergy and landowners protested and Dr. Haly the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin informed the Government of the general poverty and destitution.

The Government of the time ordered that relief was to be provided only by means of public works or through relief committees. A new public works Act was passed, which stated that schemes were to be paid for by local taxation. The government would advance the money and each barony had to repay the amount in annual instalments. During the years 1846 and 1847, the presentments were not able to cope with the distress. Over three thousand people were employed on relief schemes in County Carlow.

The Relief Committees also helped those in need. The Gentry and Clergy collected subscriptions in aid of which equal grants were given by the government. Donations were received from individuals, and religious congregations such as the Sisters of Mercy in Carlow organised subscriptions in their local area.



April 27, 2015 at 4:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Overcrowding at the Workhouse

The Poor Relief Extension Act 1847 empowered Guardians to grant relief at their own discretion to the aged and infirm and to widows with two or more dependent children. The Guardians were also empowered to grant food aid to able-bodied persons for limited periods.

In Carlow the guardians were firmly against such measures. This attitude gave rise to the overcrowded conditions in Carlow Workhouse from late 1846. Towards the end of the year 1846, the Carlow Union Workhouse was steadily filling up. From a total of 566 inmates in early November of that year, the figure rose to over 700 one month later. The Board of Guardians Minutes for the month of December reported that "the Workhouse is now full of paupers".

It was decided to discharge some of the able-bodied males and members of their families and to accommodate "more destitute objects". The situation further deteriorated in the New Year when it was resolved that "every part of this house that can be made available for the reception of paupers be fitted up".

With over 1,000 inmates by February 1847 further accommodation for 500 persons was deemed necessary . A contractor, Mr. Joe Lynch was ordered to build two sheds in the Workhouse yard. In the following month, the Clerk advertised for tenders for building two additions to the Workhouse Infirmary.

More Workhouses Acquired


Later in 1847, the Minutes refer to a property in Mill Lane situated off Castle Hill near Carlow Castle called Mill Lane House. The house consisted of seven rooms and other accommodation. It was prepared for 200 boys from the main workhouse. This would alleviate the accommodation problem in the Workhouse itself. This auxiliary property is listed in Griffith's Valuation as being in the ownership of Mr. Simeon Clarke and was valued at ten shillings.

The Guardians acquired further property in January 1848 located in the Starch Works Stores on the Athy Road, lately "in the possession of Mr. Nolan, now "in the possession of Mr. Whitmore". The guardians paid £25 per year for this property. They also acquired the use of the adjoining malt House in the possession of Thomas Haughton at £30 per year. John Nolan and Thomas Haughton were listed as lessor and occupiers in Griffith's Valuation 1853. William Whitmore was in occupation while the lease was from Mr. Francis R. Malcomson. As stated in the Minutes "the superficial measurement of Mr Haughtons Malt House is about 5,176 feet, Mr. Whitmores flooring measures about 2,684 feet, he also gives a small yard and the use of a pump". This accommodation was deemed suitable for 400-500 paupers, which relieved pressure on the principal workhouse.

By January 1848, the numbers residing in the main workhouse were statistically differentiated from those in Auxiliary locations. Thus of the 1400 occupants for week ended January 8th, 1848 800 were at the main Workhouse, 200 in the temporary buildings/additional Workhouses and 400 in the permanent Fever Hospital. The guardians took over further property at the Distillery Stores situated on the Trackway near the River Barrow, from a Mr. Crostwaite and they insured this premises for £600.


Carlow Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 15th September 1840 and covered an area of 280 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 30 in number, representing its 14 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Co. Carlow: Bagenalstown (2), Barragh (2), Borris (2), Carlow (4), Fennagh and Nurney (2), Grangeford, Idrone West (3), Kellistown, Kiltennell (2), Tullow (2), Myshall (2).

Queen's County: Arles (2), Graigue (3), Shrule (2).

Later additions to Co. Carlow: Agha, Ardough, Ballickmoyler, Ballinacarrig, Ballintemple, Ballon, Ballyellin, Ballylehane, Ballymoon, Burtonhall, Clogrenan, Clonegal, Corries, Cranemore, Doonane, Farnans, Garryhill, Johnstown, Kilbride, Killedmond, Killerigg, Leighlinbridge, Newtown, Nurney, Old Leighlin, Rathanne, Rathornan, Rathrush, Ridge, Rossmore, Shangarry, Sliguff, Tankardstown, Templepeter, Tullowbeg, Turra.

Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow

Co. Carlow: Rathvilly (2).

Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow:

Co. Carlow: Clonegal (2), Clonmore (2), Hacketstown (2).

Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Carlow: Newtownbarry (2).

New Ross, Co. Wexford

Co. Carlow: St Mullins (3).

The Board also included 10 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 40. The Guardians met each week on Thursday.

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 74,727 with divisions ranging in size from Grangeford (population 3,227) to Carlow itself (11,318).

The new Carlow Union workhouse was erected in 1842-4 on a 7.5-acre site ¾ of a mile to the south of Carlow (see map below). Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was designed to accommodate 800 inmates. Its construction cost £9,000 plus £1,470 for fittings etc. The site location and layout are shown on the 1908 OS map below.

Click on images to enlarge

Site of Carlow workhouse c1908 & Graveyard

The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 16th September 1844, and received its first admissions on 18th November 1844.

During the famine in the mid-1840s, sheds were erected to accommodate an additional 160 inmates. A building was hired as a temporary fever hospital accommodating 70 patients.

Wilkinson's proposed design for the workhouse is shown below. Male accommodation lay at the north of the site and female to at the south. Single storey probationary wards lay to each side of the entrance at the west. The the three-storey central portion of the main building probably contained administrative offices, the Master's quarters and Guardians' board room. The wings to each side contained inmates accommodation with children's quarters and school rooms at each end. Kitchens and washhouse lay to the rear, leading to a central spine containing the chapel and dining-hall. Infirmary and idiot wards stood at the east, each with its own yard. A mortuary lay at the rear, with the workhouse's burial ground at the south-east of the site.

Although Wilkinson's design had elements in common with his other Irish workhouses, the long main block with its swept-back wings seems to have been unique to Carlow. The planned arched walkway along the front of the building appears not have been built, although a similar feature can be seen at the St Asaph workhouse in north Wales.

A small lodge stood at the entrance to the site at the west. An entrance and administrative block contained a porter's room and waiting room with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above. Boys' and girls' school wings were situated at each side. To its rear, a central spine containing the chapel and dining-hall linked to the main accommodation block which had the Master's quarters at the centre.

A hospital and mortuary were situated at the east, with the workhouse's burial ground at the south-east of the site.

Carlow workhouse proposed design

Carlow workhouse plan from the north-east © Peter Higginbotham.Carlow workhouseZincographed in 1875,Carlow workhouse proposed design from the south-west © Peter Higginbotham.

Plan of Carlow Union Workhouse 1873

Plan of Carlow Union Workhouse from Ordnance Survey Map, sheet 25 surveyed in 1873 and zincographed in 1875, under the direction of Lt. Col. Wilkinson (not listed on sheet 25). The scale of map is 10.56 feet to 1 mile. The detail of this building is enhanced by use of colour. The building itself is coloured pink with gable and wall details highlighted in red. The yard spaces are also clearly outlined. Entrance from the Kilkenny Road shows central path bounded by grass and scattered trees. A lodge is situated to the right of the entrance. The symmetrical plan is clearly identified on the map. Part of the Parliamentary Boundary can be seen passing through gable on left hand side of map, and to the County, Barony and Parish boundary along the centre of the River Barrow.

April 27, 2015 at 4:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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An Advertisement for Staff Nov 24th 1849

Vacancies having occurred in the Offices of Master, Matron, Porter, Assistant Schoolmaster and Hospital Nurse. The Board of Guardians will on THURSDAY, the 6th December, proceed to the election of Officers to fill the vacancies, on the following terms viz: -

MASTERAt a salary of £80 per annum, with rations and apartments. This officer will be expected to enter into a Bond of £200, with two solvent Sureties. MATRONAt a Salary of £12 per annum, with rations and apartments, and will be required on a Bond of £100, with two Sureties. PORTERAt a Salary of £12 per annum, with rations and apartments, and will be required to enter into a of Bond £20, with two Sureties. ASSISTANT SCHOOLMASTERAt a Salary of £20 per annum, with rations and apartments, and will be required to enter into a of Bond £15, with two Sureties. HOSPITAL NURSEAt a Salary of £12 per annum, with rations and apartments, and will be required to enter into a of Bond £20, with two Sureties.

Tenders and Testimonials of Competency and Character, to be lodged with me on or before 10 o'clock on THURSDAY, the 6th of December.

Personal attendance is indispensable.

By Order


Clerk of the Union

Poor Law Office

Carlow, 15th November 1849.

Source: Carlow County Library -

April 27, 2015 at 4:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1033


With regards several family members in the same home or internet cafe all wanting to sign this petition at the same time Yes this can be done .

Any amount of people in a household/Cafe can sign it .

There is no problems with all you're family & friends using the same internet account .

Each signature requires its own email address

We do need signatures, not just shares






This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

April 27, 2015 at 4:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1033

Transcript Carlow

St. Mullins

Graignamanagh 4th March 1847




As Chairman of St. Mullins Relief Committee (Co. Carlow) it is now for the second

time my duty to solicit through your charitable interference, some assistance

from Government towards our Relief Fund.


Already at your kind recommendation we have received from the Lord Lieutenant

a donation of £70 in aid of a local subscription amounting to £82. For this

generous grant, which has been the means of saving many a life, I beg on the

part of the suffering poor of this district to return our heartfelt thanks both to

yourself and to His Excellency.


I now send you our second subscription list. The amount is but £14 — We have

appealed in vain to the landed proprietors. From the principal proprietor, who is

very wealthy, and whose property in this district alone is worth seven thousand

pounds a year, well-paid money – from him we could succeed in obtaining no

more than £33 — There is a lady residing in London that has some landed

property here, & who receives tithe rent-charge to amount of £500 a year from

this parish - & from this lady after a long delay we received £3 —!!


Thus we have no hopes from the landlords - Our funds are completely exhausted

– and, as you will learn from a Circular of which I send you a copy, our Poor

House is crowded, and can receive no more paupers.


Under such circumstances our Committee fervently hopes that you will once more

in your charity recommend the case of the destitute poor of St. Mullins to the

merciful consideration of His Excellency, the Lord Lieutenant —


I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your much obliged servant

D Maher Parish Priest Chairman



Commissary General

Sir Randolf J. Routh


[Relief Commission Papers, RLFC 3/2/3/29]




This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

October 17, 2015 at 7:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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