Lest We Forget - Roscrea Through The Ages

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Lest We Forget

History > History 2

by Veronica Griffin
This piece was sent in by Veronica Griffin (nee Bourke)
residing now in the USA formerly of Burgoo.
Click here to download the article.

For the Irish the workhouse was the last resort. Evictions, hunger and sickness drove people to the workhouse gate.

  • All freedom was lost when entering the workhouse.

  • Separated from spouse and children

  • Had to wear workhouse clothes

There was food; the barest of nutrients were calculated by English Crown experts to keep cost at a minimum without thought to plight of the poor inhabitants.
Workhouse meant people had to work, work all day sick and hungry.  Who gained from their work?
The dead buried in mass graves families not notified even if they were all within the workhouse domain.
Some argue all this was necessary and maybe so.  In a time of occupation of a ruling class that had no empathy for the Irish, and no plan for them to prosper.
The cause of poverty and the Holocaust in Ireland is the result of the English occupation.
Ireland didn't fall off the planet when it gained independence.  If you read this remember those who are in need.
Give to those organizations that feed the hungry.
This is just a short portion of the entire Book of Irish Workhouse Rules 1844.
Note the separation of families.
Mothers had access to their babies and access to their children between 2 and 7 years old at all reasonable times.
Irish Workhouse Rules 1844
Classification of the Paupers.
Article 9.—The paupers, so far as the workhouse admits thereof, shall be classed as follows:
          1. Males above the age of 15 years.
          2. Boys above the age of 2 years, and under that of 15 years.
          3. Females above the age of 15 years.
          4. Girls above the age of 2 years, and under that of 15 years.
          5. Children under 2 years of age.
Article 10.—To each of the classes specified in Article 9 shall be assigned, by the Board of Guardians, the apartments and yard best fitted for the reception of such class; and where the number of inmates and the accommodation of the workhouse admit thereof, the said classes may be further subdivided pith the approval of the Poor Law Commissioners.
Article 11.—Each class, or subdivision of a class, shall respectively remain in the apartment assigned to them, without communication with any other class or subdivision of a class; subject, nevertheless, to such arrangements as exist with reference to the probationary wards and infirmary, and also to the following five exceptions:
          Exception 1.—Any paupers of the third class, and any paupers of a proper age in the fourth class, may be employed, constantly or occasionally, as assistants to the nurses in any of the sick wards, or in the care of infants, or as assistants in the household work; provided that the said paupers, when employed in the household work, be so employed without communication with the paupers of the first and second classes.
          Exception 2.—Any aged pauper of the third class, whom the master may deem fit to perform any of the duties of a mime or assistant to the matron, may be so employed in the sick wards, or those of the second, third, fourth, or fifth classes; and any pauper of the first class, who may by the master be deemed fit, may be placed in the ward of the second class, to aid in the management, and superintend the behaviour, of the paupers of such class.
          Exception 3.—The boys and girls under 15 years of age may be permitted to meet in the same school, for the purposes of instruction, subject to the consent and approval of the Poor Law Commissioners, first had and obtained.
          Exception 4.—All paupers of class 5, whose mothers are inmates of the workhouse, shall be allowed to remain with their mothers, if the mothers so desire; and all paupers of classes 2 and 4, who are between the ages of two and seven years, shall, when not attending school, be placed in some apartment specially provided for them; and the mothers of such last-named children shall he permitted to have access to them at all reasonable times.

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