Lurgan Workhouse

Vol. 6 No. 1 - 1989

Lurgan Workhouse

by Charles Gardiner

These notes on Lurgan Workhouse were found by antique dealer Charles Gardiner during the clearance of an old house. Although some members have made progress on this work there is still much to be researched.

Upwards of 3,000 victims were taken from the Workhouse and buried in the Field which was over the brow of the hill, out of sight of the fever Hospital. The hill prevented those left from looking out over their own graves.

The Workhouse opened in 1841 and covered an area which had a population of around 70,000, it was a collection of huts and tents with one permanent building. During the height of the famine between 1846 and 1848 one person in ten turned to the workhouse for help.

The place was run on a shoestring budget. In 1846 it cost 2 shillings and 2 pence to keep a pauper a week. But as the numbers grew the belt had to be tightened even more and this weekly figure was brought down to just one shilling and five pence farthing.

The fever could kill in 12 hours. A man was seen working in the field in the morning and at 9 o'clock that night he was dead.

Between December 1846 and November 1847 a total of 1,118 people died. So great was the number of deaths that the original three acre field had to be extended. A six acre field was bought. The Coffinmaker in the workhouse made 3 sizes of Coffins priced at 6d, 9d and 1/3 [1 shilling and 3 pence or approximately 6p in decimal currency].

Burials were discontinued in this Cemetery when Monbrief Cemetery was opened.

This Workhouse Cemetery was in the Townland of Aughnacloy.