Portumna was one of the new Poor Law Unions created in Ireland between 1848 and 1850. Portumna Union was formally declared on 22nd February 1850. Portumna Workhouse opened in 1852 and was one of 33 opened after the Famine. As such, life there was not as harsh as in the 130 earlier workhouses opened before and during the Famine. The building was intended to accommodate 600 inmates.