ISSN 1443-5888 Volume 8, No. 4, April 2006.

A Monthly Newsletter: Editor: Terry Eakin, 334 Burns Bay Road, LANE COVE, NSW 2066 Contact E-mail address:
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ISSN 1443-5888 Volume 8, No. 4, April 2006.

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A Monthly Newsletter: Editor: Terry Eakin, 334 Burns Bay Road, LANE COVE, NSW 2066
Contact E-mail address:
ISSN 1443-5888 Volume 8, No. 4, April 2006.

Introduction: ÔÇÿAll Ireland SourcesÔÇÖ is a monthly newsletter distributed free by E-mail to Family History Societies and
interested researchers near the end of each month. Distribution by Australia Post each three months (three issues) costs $6.00
annually within Australia. The aim is to bring items of interest regarding Irish record sources to the Australian genealogist.
The editor would appreciate being made aware of records relating to the Irish, particularly those held in Australia or new in
the LDS Family History Library. Back copies available free for downloading from Note new email address.
POOR LAW RECORDS: Poor Law Records are the archives of the Board of Guardians who
administered the Poor Law in Ireland, 1838-1948. Both the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
(PRONI) and the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) hold extensive records of the Poor Law.
PRONI holds extensive records for 28 Poor Law Unions (BG class) that operated in the area now
covered by Northern Ireland. Each Poor Law Union was named after a chief town in its area, which
usually serviced the area in a ten-mile radius, and often extended across county boundaries. Besides
Workhouses, Infirmaries and Fever Hospitals were administered by the Board of Guardians as well as
Outdoor Relief. The system was financed by a rate (tax) collected under the Poor Law Valuation.
The original aim of the poor law system was to provide indoor relief to the destitute poor in
woerkhouses. Due to the pressures on accommodation created as a result of the Great Famine,
outdoor relief was introduced. This was granted to the able-bodied poor in the form of money or
goods and, as a result, this meant that by the turn of the century the workhouses in Ireland had become
a refuge for the old, the sick, and destitute children under 15 years of age.
THE RECORDS: There are comprehensive sets of records covering the 27 poor law unions that
were established in the six counties of Northern Ireland. Originally there were 28 Unions established,
but the Union of Gortin (BG/28) was amalgamated with Omagh (BG/26) in 1870. The extent to
which the records survive for each of these unions varies from place to place. The minute booksw,
the admission and discharge registers, the registers of births and deaths and the outdoor relief registers
are all valuable source material for genealogists tracing their family tree.
Classes of records include:
? Minute books,
? Admission and discharge registers listing those entering and leaving the workhouse,
? Registers of births and deaths and of those receiving outdoor relief
Closure: Due to the sensitive nature of some of the records contained within them, many of
these registers are closed for 100 years from the latest date in each volume. This means that a register
that contains information recorded in June, 1903, will not be open until January 2004 (the first
working day of the year following their hundredth anniversary). Registers dating from 1838-1900
where available are open to the public.
MINUTE BOOKS: There are complete sets of minute books for almost all the unions, and even
those unions with imperfect sets lack only an occasional volume. These volumes are of less interest
to genealogists as they contain minutes of the meetings of the various committees and a great deal of
purely statistical information. However, they also contain the names of those individuals whom the
Board of Guardians assisted to emigrate. Several volumes of minutes have been transcribed and are
available on the Public Search Room shelves.
ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE REGISTERS: The admission and discharge registers list
those entering and leaving the workhouse. There are also registers of births and deaths and of those
receiving outdoor relief. All of these records provide lists of names which could well prove usefulto
the genealogical researcher, particularly for the poorer classes who are unlikely to be recorded
elsewhere. Occasionally, lists of inmates of the infirmaries and fever hospitals attached to the
workhouse have survived and these ought to be searched.
THEWORKHOUSE UNIONS: Each Poor Law Union was named after the Principal town in
the area and often extended across county boundaries. The 27 Poor Law Unions in the counties of
Northern Ireland are listed below. For details of the records which have survived for each Union,
researchers should consult the grey calendars, which are available on the shelves of the Public Search
Call No. City/Town County Call No. City/Town County
BG/1 Antrim Antrim BG/2 Armagh Armagh
BG/3 Ballycastle Antrim BG/4 Ballymena Antrim
BG/5 Ballymoney Antrim BG/6 Banbridge Down
BG/7 Belfast Antrim & Down BG/8 Castlederg Tyrone
BG/9 Clogher Tyrone BG/10 Coleraine Londonderry
BG/11 Cookstown Tyrone BG/12 Downpatrick Down
BG/13 Dungannon Tyrone BG/14 Enniskillen Fermanagh
BG/15 Irvinestown Fermanagh BG/16 Kilkeel Down
BG/17 Larne Antrim BG/18 [Newton]Limavady Londonderry
BG/19 Lisburn Antrim BG/20 Lisnaskea Fermanagh
BG/21 Londonderry Londonderry BG/22 Lurgan Armagh
BG/23 Magherafelt Londonderry BG/24 Newry Down
BG/25 Newtownards Down BG/26 Omagh Tyrone
BG/27 Strabane Tyrone BG/28 Gortin (united to
Omagh, c.1870)
For more information and research, go to
The Poor Law was an attempt to come to terms with some of the problems arising out of widespread
poverty in Ireland in the early 19th century by providing institutional relief for the destitute. The Irish
Poor Law Act of 1838, heavily influenced by an English Act of 1834, divided the country initially
into 130 poor law unions, each with a workhouse at its centre.
Each Union was administered by a board of poor law guardians, some of whom were elected and
some appointed from the local magistracy. The system was originally designed to accommodate 1%
of the population or 80,000 people but, by march 1851, famine had driven almost 4% of the
population into the workhouses. As the 19th century progressed, the poor law unions were given
many additional functions, particularly in relation ti health, housing and sanitation.
Under the Local Government Act, 1898, the poor law unions lost some of their housing and sanitation
functions to newly established rural district councils, but remained responsible for poor relief. The
early 1920s saw the abolition of poor law unions in the south of Ireland (with the exception of Dublin)
and the closure of workhouses to reduce costs. Some workhouses were burned during the War of
Independence and Civil War while others were converted into county homes or district hospitals.
There was hardly a facet of Irish life at a local level upon which the poor law did not impinge and the
records are one of the most important primary sources into life in Ireland from the early 19th to the
early 20th centuries.
In general the minute books of poor law unions have a reasonably good survival rate, but it is unusual
for other records to survive in quantity. However, some of the poor law collections held by the
National Archives are remarkable for the range of records which they contain. The National Archives
holds several very complete collections of workhouse records relating to the North Dublin Union,
South Dublin Union, and Rathdown Union (part of County Dublin and County Wicklow). As well as
minute books, these collections include indoor registers which give the names and personal details of
those entering the workhouse, as well as a wide variety of other records.
The National Archives also holds smaller collections relating to Balrothery Union (part of county
Dublin), Bawnboy Union (part of County Cavan), Dromore West Union (part of County Sligo) and
Lismore Union (part of County Waterford). The National Archives also holds orders made by Poor
Law Commissioners and Local Government Board, 1839-1921. and files of the Dail Eireann
Department of Local Government, 1919-1923.
County Antrim: Antrim, Ballycastle, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Belfast, Larne and Lisburn.
County Armagh: Armagh and Lurgan.
County Down: Banbridge, Downpatrick, Kilkeel. Newry and Newtownards.
County Fermanagh: Enniskillen, Lisnaskea and Lowtherstown.
County Londonderry: Coleraine, Londonderry, Magherafelt and Newtown Limavady.
County Tyrone: Castlederg (Castle Derg), Clogher, Cookstown, Dungannon, Gortin, Omagh,
and Strabane.
ULSTER PROVINCE: (now in the Republic of Ireland)
County Cavan: Bailieborough, Bawnboy, Cavan and Cootehill.
County Donegal: Ballyshannon, Donegal, Dunfanaghy, Glenties, Inishowen, Letterkenny,
Millford and Stranorlar.
County Monaghan: Carrickmacross, Castleblaney (Castleblayney), Clones and Monaghan.
County Galway: Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Glenamaddy, Gort, Loughree, Mountbellew,
Oughterard, Portumna and Tuam.
County Leitrim: Carrick-on-Shannon, Manorhamilton and Mohill.
County Mayo: Ballina, Ballinrobe, Belmullet, Castlebar, Claremorris, Killala, Newport,
Swineford (Swinford) and Westport.
County Roscommon: Boyle, Castlerea, Roscommon and Strokestown.
County Sligo: Dromore West, Sligo and Tubbercurry (Tobercurry).
County Carlow: Carlow.
County Dublin: Balrothery, Dublin North, Dublin South and Rathdown.
County Kildare: Athy, Celbridge and Naas.
County Kilkenny: Callan, Castlecomer, Kilkenny, Thomastown and Urlingford
County Laois (QueenÔÇÖs)Abbeyleix, Donaghmore and Mountmellick.
County Longford: Ballymahon, Granard and Longford.
County Louth: Ardee, Drogheda and Dundalk.
County Meath: Castletowndelvin, Dunshaughlin, Kells, Navan, Oldcastle and Trim.
County Offaly (KingÔÇÖs):Edenderry, Parsonstown and Tullamore.
County Westmeath: Athlone and Mullingar.
County Wexford: Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross and Wexford.
County Wicklow: Baltinglass, Rathdrum and Shillelagh.
County Clare: Ballyvaughan, Corofin, Ennis, Ennistymon, Kildysart (Killadysert), Kilrush,
Scariff and Tulla.
County Cork: Bandon, Bantry, Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Cork, Dunmanway, Fermoy,
Kanturk, Kinsale, Macroom, Mallow, Middleton, Millstreet, Mitchelstown,
Schull (Skull) and Skibbereen.
County Kerry: Caherciveen, Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney, Listowel and Tralee.
County Limerick: Croom, Glin, Kilmallock, Limerick, Newcastle and Rathleale.
County Tipperary: Borrisokane, Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Clogheen, Clonmel, Nenagh, Roscrea,
Thurles and Tipperary.
County Waterford: Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Lismore, Waterford and Youghal.
References relative to the Workhouse records available worldwide in the LDS Family History Centres
in the following order: ÔÇ£titleÔÇØ, notes including the LDS film number(s). Search the Family History
Library Catalog for the words ÔÇÿWorkhouse IrelandÔÇÖ. BG = Board of Guardians, IR = Indoor Register,
OR = Outdoor Register, VR = Vaccination Register, WR = Workhouse Register;
1. ÔÇ£Extracts from the admission register of Downpatrick Workhouse, 1842-1849,
Downpatrick Poor Law UnionÔÇØ can be found on film 493164, item 3.
2. ÔÇ£Workhouse Records, 1845-1918, Lowtherstown Poor Law UnionÔÇØ reference BG IR 1-3,
1845-1867 on film 259187; reference BG IR 4-7, 1867-1907 on film 159188; and
reference BG OR 1-2, 1847-1918 on film 259189 and Births 1846-1918 and Deaths 1899-
1918 on film 259190.
3. ÔÇ£Workhouse Records, 1846-1899, Ballycastle Poor Law UnionÔÇØ reference BG WR 1-2,
1846-1899 can be found on film 259173.
4. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1843-1947, Ballymena Poor Law UnionÔÇØ, BG IR 1-3, 1843-1857
on film 259181; BG IR 4-5, 1857-1873 on film 259182; BG IR 1-3, 1873-1881 on film
259183; BG IR 4-7, 1881-1894 on film 259184; BG IR 8-10, 1894-1901 on film 259185
and Outdoor Relief Register BG OR 1, 1899-1947 also on film 259185.
5. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1845-1913, Enniskillen Poor Law UnionÔÇØ reference BG OR 1,
1848-1898 on film 259148 and BG IR 1-3, 1845-1880 also on film 259148; BG IR 4-7,
1847-1874 on film 259149; BG IR 8-10, 1880-1895 on film 259150; BG IR 11, 1895-
1901 on film 259151; Temporary Vaccination Register BG VR 1-4, 1864-1913 on film
259152; Temporary Vaccination Register (Holywell District) BG VR 6, 1889-1899 on
film 259153.
6. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1862-1883, Strabane Poor Law UnionÔÇØ, reference BG WR 1-4,
1862-1877 on film 259164; BG WR 5-7, 1877-1883 on film 259165. [Part in County
Tyrone and part in County Donegal].
7. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1862-1900, Ballymoney Poor Law UnionÔÇØ reference BG IR 1-4,
1862-1883 on film 259174; BG IR 5-8, 1883-1900 on film 259175.
8. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1864-1882, Belfast Poor Law UnionÔÇØ reference BG OR 1-2, 1864-
1882 on film 259177 and BG WR 1, 1864-1865 on film 259177.
9. ÔÇ£Workhouse Registers, 1868-1903, Downpatrick Poor Law UnionÔÇØ, reference BG WR 1-
2, 1868-1877 on film 159159, BG WR 3-5, 1877-1898 on film 259160; BG WR 6-7,
1898-1903 on film 259161.
10. ÔÇ£Derry and the Irish Poor Law Act: A History of the Derry WorkhouseÔÇØ by Patrick
Durnin, book, 198 pages, reference 941.62 P3.
11. ÔÇ£Loughlinstown Workhouse in the 1840sÔÇØ by Liam Clare, pamphlet, 24 pages, Foxrock
Local History Club, reference 941.83/L1 J7c No. 16.
12. ÔÇ£A Pride of Paper Tigers: A history of the great hunger in the Scarriff Workhouse Union
from 1839-1853ÔÇØ by Michael OÔÇÖGorman, book, 82 pages, reference 941.93 P3.
13. ÔÇ£Registry of Persons admitted into and discharged from the workhouse of the Dublin
South Poor Law Union with an alphabetical index, 1840-1918ÔÇØ NAI reference BG 79 G
Nos. 1-149. This valuable series of 149 volumes has been copied on to 33 reels of
microfilm by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Each volume has an index of names from
A-Z but note that volume 21 Index is split between two films, A-T is at the end of reel
No. 2197952 and it is continued T-Z on reel No. 2214029 (these are not consecutive film
numbers). The volume that this split index covers is filmed on the latter reel, No.
2214029 and covers the period starting 29 November 1856 and the film ends on 30 July
1862 (volume No. 24). Volume No. 109 also has a split index (A-L on 2214176) and L-Z
on reel 2214177 and Volume 114 (A-Q on 2214177) and Q-Z on reel No. 2214178. The
film listings are continued on page 19 of Volume 8, No. 5, May 2006.
Articles, suggestions and information for this newsletter are welcome and may be E-mailed to: or
posted to Terry Eakin, 334 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove NSW AUSTRALIA 2066

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