Birr (Offaly)

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Birr Workhouse from above
Birr Workhouse from above

Note: At the time of construction of the Workhouse, Birr was known as Parsonstown and County Offaly was known as King's County. 


The following information was provided by Mr Steve Dolan, Manager of The Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co. Galway

The Birr Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1839. The Workhouse was opened in 1842 at a cost of £8,285. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 800 inmates, but census records show that the true number of inmates reached as high as 2,300 in 1849. The Birr Workhouse was built to accommodate people from the areas of Aglishcloghane, Banagher, Ballingarry, Dorha, Drumcillen, Eglish, Ferbane, Frankfort, Kilcolesman, Kinnety, Lemanagan, Letter, Lockeen, Lorha, Lusmagh, Seirkyrans, Parsonstown (Birr), Shannon Bridge, Shannon Harbour, Tissarin, and Uskeane.

Birr Workhouse was closed in 1921 and has been used by a number of different small businesses throughout the years. Recent announcements have revealed that the building is going to be redeveloped as a dementia care facility. 


For more information see here Ireland VIEW SOURCE

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  • Are there lists of persons who lived in the Birr Workhouse during the famine years? I am looking for John C. Cahill, born 15 June 1833, emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1850-1852.

    I am his great-great granddaughter,

    Karen Theriot Reader


    Thursday 9th April 2020 08:53PM
  • Hello,

    Have you created a Chronicle for your Ancestor? If not then I would advise creating one and linking them to the Workhouse. This will bring your Ancestor to the attention of our wonderful volunteers who may be able to provide you with some pointers.

    With regards to finding records from the Workhouse, your best bet is to contact the relevant County Council Archive.

    Best of luck with your search

    IrelandXO Team

    Chronicles Editor

    Friday 10th April 2020 08:57AM
  • Are there any records as I found out from research that my great great grandfather Daniel Mulrooney died in the Parsonstown Workhouse on 21 March 1873. His daughter Bridget married William Campbell who was in the Birr Militia abd they lived in Moore Park road 


    Saturday 2nd January 2021 07:55PM
  • Hi there, 

    Your best bet for records is to contact the Offaly County Council Archivist. This link should be helpful…

    Chronicles Editor

    Monday 4th January 2021 12:26PM
  • I discovered when searching through the British Newspaper Archives under my husband's G-Grandfather's surname, that my husband's 2X G- Grandmother became Matron of Parsonstown Union Workhouse. In an article in the King Co. Chronicle & General Provincial Intelligencer Deborah Delahey was named in several articles. The extensive report of the weekly meeting of the Guardians of Parsonstown Union tabled in the Kings Co. Chronicle on Wednesday 28 February 1849 states Deborah Delahey was considered for the appointment  of Hospital Nurse.

    In the Kings Co Chronicle dated 30 December 1857 in the report on the Guardians' meeting it stated Mrs. Delahey was being considered for the position of matron of Borriskane workhouse.

    However it appears that she became Matron of the Fever Hospital under the Parsonstown Union as her name appears in several other newspaper articles from the Kings Co. Chronicle with regards to a proposal for her salary to be 10 shillings a week, & when she gave a report regarding Cholera cases in the fever hospital in 1867.

    In other articles of the Kings Co. Chronicles of reports of the Parsonstown Union meetings Deborah's husband John Delahey is mentioned as being employed at the workhouse from 1851. He first worked as a steward & gardener & in 1854 was elected as steward of the fever Hospital. When John resigned in 1866 he was also caretaker of the dispensary. The Guardians thought there was no hurry to fill the position since "Mrs. Delahey being on the spot she could see after the dispensary" As quoted from a report of the Committee of the Dispensary at Parsonstown.

    Deborah died 3 October 1867 in the fever hospital from a stroke aged 64. Her occupation given as hospital matron with the informant being Margaaret Delahey who was present at the death& whose residence given as Fever Hospital.

     I have not researched any further of the Parsonstown Union meetings as finding that information from the BNA site was very helpful.

    Anne O'Leary [Sydney, Australia]


    Sunday 5th March 2023 03:01AM

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