Irish Workhouse Records.

Irish Workhouse Records

The Dublin Workhouse Admission and Discharge registers dating from 1840 and running up to 1919 are held in the National Archives and have been digitised and indexed and can be accessed on These registers can be very useful, albeit sobering, records to consult. We have recently completed two reports where the workhouse registers played an important role in telling us more about the family and gave a fuller picture to lives that more than often went undocumented.

The registers cover three workhouses – Dublin North, Dublin South and Rathdown and they give details for each person admitted. The name, age, occupation if any, religion, their state of health and sometimes a specific address were frequently recorded. The date of entry and date of discharge were also noted.

So for instance we learn that on the 5th of May 1847, Alicia Begg was admitted to the workhouse. Alicia was a 24 year-old married servant born in Dublin admitted with her four year-old daughter, Mary, who was recorded as delicate. Alicia was pregnant and her husband’s name was recorded as Thomas. The mother and child were discharged the following January.

Many of those admitted, particularly during the Famine years, were born outside of Dublin city and county. Two days after Alicia Begg’s admission the Nealle family were recorded as having entered the workhouse. Patrick Nealle, was a 39 year-old carpenter born in Co. Clare, suffering from ophthalmia, an inflammation of the eye. His wife, Mary, aged 22, was born in Kerry; she was a dressmaker and in good health. Their 3 month-old daughter Mary was born in Liverpool and was in delicate health. The family remained in the workhouse for just over a month.

What brought them to Dublin and where did they go to next? While we may never know the answer to these questions the workhouse records can be illuminating and and a useful genealogical source of information.

By Helen Moss

Helen Moss

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