Boyle (Roscommon)

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Boyle workhouse location and layout (no longer extant)
Boyle workhouse location and layout (no longer extant)

Boyle Poor Law Union was formally declared on 20 August 1839, at a time when the Poor Laws were very much in the news. "The Boyle Union" was named after the town on which it was centred (and where its workhouse was located) and served the poor of Roscommon North and the adjacent parts of Co. Sligo.  It was responsible for the erection and management of Boyle Workhouse. 

Prior to this date, poor relief was administered locally, parish by parish and these records were kept in the Church of Ireland Vestry Books (held locally).

DISCOVER  Vestry Minute Books for your Parish 

Electoral Divisions covered by this PLU

Patrick Brown (aka Patt Browne, agent to the O'Connor Don) Returning Officer for Boyle Union immediately invited nominations for the Election of Guardians to be held on 19 September 1839. Only landlords or owners of property in the electoral districts listed below could nominate those to be elected to Boyle Union. 

Co. Roscommon: Ardcarn, Ballinameen, Boyle, Breedoge, Croghan (Estersnow, Killukin + 1 townland from Killummod), Keadue, Rockingham, Shankill.

Co. Sligo: BallinafadKilmactrannyKilshalvyShancoughToomourCoolavinKilfreeKilturra.​

Only residents of the above Electoral Districts would have applied or qualified to enter the workhouse. Their nearest market town may have been Boyle, Keadue, Elphin, Frenchpark, Croghan, Tubbercurry, Ballymote, Riverstown, or Ballaghaderreen, but not every townland connected to those towns was served by Boyle Union.  


Newspaper Poor Law reports on the election of guardians gives us a tidy whos-who list of "gentlemen" (local landlords' agents) for each district in the years leading up to the Famine:

The Ex-Officio Guardians for Boyle Union:—Lord Viscount Lorton (Rockingham House), Owen Lloyd Esq (Knockadoo BOYLE), Oliver D. J. Grace Esq. (Mantua House), Morgan Crofton Esq (Abbey View, BOYLE), Thomas McDermott-Roe, Esq. of Alderford [Limerick Chronicle - 4 September 1839]. In the Election of Guardians on 5 September, the following gentlemen were elected for the different Electoral Divisions (to which their names are annexed):— 

ROSCOMMON Boyle: Capt. Robertson (Tangier House), Capt. Duckworth (Mount Erris), and John Mulhall, Esq. Croghan: John Duke, Esq of MoylurgKeadue, James McTernan Esq, and Hugh O Donnell Esq.; Shankhill, Mr Michael Butler. Only the following districts were contested:  BreedogueJohn L. Hackett, Esq of Boyle, Mr James Magan (Sheepwalk, Frenchpark). Ballinameen: John Irwin, Esq. of Hughestown, Edward French, Esq. Bella. Rockingham: Tobias Peyton, Esq., Oatlands, William Mulloy, Esq. of Oakport.  Ardcarne: Coote Mulloy, Esq., of Oakport, Mr Owen Martin, Woodfield

SLIGO Ballinafad: D. K. Lloyd, Esq.  Coolavin: Mr Edward Costello. Killfree: Mr James Powell. Kilmactranny: Mr Thomas Devine. Kilshalvey: Mr John Gorman. Kilturra: Mr Bartholomew McGethric. Shancough: Edward Frazer, Esq. Toumour: William Phibbs, Esq.



Boyle Union's boundaries were unrelated to those of the civil parishes and in some cases only served a handful of townlands within a given parish (the remainder being served by an entirely different PLU). If your ancestor came from Boyle Workhouse, they could only have come from one of the following civil parishes:

Boyle  Ardcarn  Estersnow  Killukin Boyle  Killummod  Kilcolagh  Kilmacumsy  Kilnamanagh  Shankill  Tumna

Aghanagh Drumcolumb  Drumrat  Emlaghfad Kilmactranny  Killadoon  Shancough  Kilronan  Kilbryan  Killaraght  Kilfree  Kilshalvy Toomour  

DISCOVER   Places in Boyle Poor Law Union



Boyle Union was responsible for the erection and management of Boyle Workhouse. Teach na mBocht Mhainistir na Búille aka Boyle Workhouse was built to accommodate 700 inmates. The Poor House in Boyle was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 6th December 1841, opened the week of 20 December, and received its first admissions on 31st December 1841.



During the famine in the mid-1840s, sheds were erected to accommodate additional inmates. The idiot wards were extended to accommodate fever patients and a 44-bed fever hospital was erected at the south-west of the site. A burial ground was situated nearby.



- Sir l have just seen, in the Post of Tuesday last, an article taken from Saunders's News-Letter, relative to the mortality the Boyle workhouse, which, I beg to assure you, is incorrect, and I send you the Boyle paper which contains my report, from which you will see that the mortality for the quarter ending the 28th December 1846, was only 54, being within a fraction of four a-week. Also, that the Boyle workhouse is capable of holding 700, and that we now have in it 636 poor. As such statements are likely to create mistakes, you will please to contradict them in your highly respectable and wide-spread journal, and will oblige—Your obedient servant, Harward O’Farrell, M.D., F.R.C.S.D. Medical Attendant to the Boyle Workhouse. [Dublin Evening Post - Saturday 09 January 1847]


The Boyle Workhouse 

From the taste with which the lands attached to this establishment are laid out, the situation the house, and the excellent manner in which it is lit and ventilated, than which nothing can be more conducive to health, would say that it should be, as, indeed, believe is, the most free from disease of any in the west of Ireland ; nor are the internal arrangements less calculated in every department to promote the same beneficial effects.

Some looms hare been lately set up there the enterprising vice-guardians, who appear to take all the pains in their power to render this establishment what it is so desirable a workhouse should be, not a receptacle for idle paupers, but an institution, where the inmates are being qualified for being useful to society, and capable, in less trying times, of depending on their own resources. [Roscommon Messenger - 26 May 1849]



Records for this workhouse do not exist in any known archive. Some information can be gleaned from newspaper archives.

Guardians, Officers, and other Appointments

Guardians [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette -  21 September 1839]: 

Shancough: Edward Frazer, Gent. Kilmactranny: Thomas Divine, Farmer. Ballinafad: Kingson D. Lloyd, Esq., J.P. Toomour: William Phibbs, Esq., J.P, Kilshalvy: John Gorman, Farmer. Kilturra: Barth. McGethrig, Gent. Coolavin: Edward Costello, Esq. Kilfree: James Powell, Farmer.

Boyle: John Duckworth, Esq., J. P., John Mulvihill, Merchant, and Captain Caleb Robertson

Breedoge: James McGann (aka James Magan) Farmer. Ballinameen, Edward French, Esq.. J. P. Shankill, Michael Butler, Merchant, 

CroghanJohn Duke, Esq. (Moylurg House) Rockingham, Tobias Peyton, Esq. Ardcarn,  Coote Mulloy, Esq. JP, of OakportKeadue: Hugh L. O’Donnell, Esq., and James McTiernan, Esq. 


Lord Viscount LortonGuy Lloyd, Esq, Vice-Chairman; Morgan Crofton, Esq., Deputy Vice-Chairman, Frederick Carey, of the Agricultural Bank, Clerk, Salary. £40 per annum. The National Bank, Treasurer. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - Saturday 05 October 1839]

Mr McGarry of Sligo was appointed Valuator. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - 9 November 1839]

By June 1841, the election of a Master, Matron and Porter for Boyle Workhouse began.  For the position of Chief Medical House Officer, a joint proposal from Dr Cryan and Dr O'Farrell had been received.

A six-acre site at the south of Boyle was selected for the erection of a workhouse, designed by George Wilkinson. Building commenced in March 1840, when the first stone was laid:


It having been that Lord Lorton intended to lay the first stone of the above house this day, a large number of the most respectable inhabitants of this town, and vicinity presented themselves on the ground.— About two o’clock. Captain Robertson having reached the scene of operation was immediately joined by Mr Jackman, the Contractor, and Mr French, the Clerk of the Works, and having conducted him to the foundation Of the intended building, Mr. J. apologised to the numerous persons present, for the unavoidable absence of Lorton, who intended doing them the honour laying the first stone, and stated, that he had received a note from his Lordship appointing Capt, Robertson to act for him. 

Captain Robertson commenced by observing that it most be well known all present tltet there was not living an individual who took a more lively interest in the happiness and prosperity of the kingdom at large, of his own neighbourhood in particular, but most especially the poor and destitute, than the noble Lord whose absence he regretted this day; his sympathy for them and benevolence towards them for the last forty years must be known to them all; But without dwelling further on this subject, he would draw their attention to the original cause of all the misery and suffering in the world, which was sin; for since the introduction of sin into this world, the world has been the scene of every kind of bodily and mental suffering,—of every kind of bodily and mental deformity. Tim state of suffering and misery is to be witnessed in its highest degree in those savage nations where the light of divine revelation, has not shone. There the friend deserts his friend, the children expose their aged parents in the woods to wild beasts and to death.—the orphan, idiot, and diseased are left to suffer unpitied and unrelieved. Now one of the greatest blessings that Christianity has introduced into this world is the sympathy it kindles within the breast of each man for his neighbour, and the provision it has made for the poor and needy. In our own country for ages, the support the poor has been in a great measure thrown upon those whose narrow means and family obligations have limited the relief that is necessary. It has also been a subject great and just complaint that absentee proprietors have not extended that relief which their means and their duties demand; but a measure has at length been devised to meet this evil, and the Poor House which we this day engaged in creating is the result. Here is to the asylum, not of the strong and able-bodied, but the aged, the helpless, the outcast orphan, the deformed, the idiot; and I trust it will be an instrument conducive to the glory of God, and the temporal and eternal benefit of the inmates. No one rejoices more in this good work than Lord Lorton or feels at times more pleasure in the well-being of his follow creatures than be does. Capt. Robertson concluded by announcing to the tradesmen that His Lordship had ordered him to give the sum of £5. The whole business then concluded in nine rapturous cheers for this excellent nobleman by everyone present. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - 7 March 1840]


An entrance and administrative block at the east contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre. The board room on the first floor above served 25 Guardians who met there every Saturday at noon. This block was later extended at each side for children's accommodation and school-rooms.

The main accommodation block had the Master's quarters at the centre, with male and female wings to each side. At the rear was a range of single-storey utility rooms such as bakehouse and washhouse with the infirmary and idiots' wards in a separate block at the west.



Sadly, the workhouse buildings are no longer extant. However, old photos and an excellent 3D rendering had been created on

The only tangible remains are the workhouse boundary walls. 



A small memorial dedicated to workhouse inmates buried there was erected in 1910, it can be found in the old burial grounds on Plunkett Avenue.



Ancestor connected to this workhouse? If YES, please link this Building to their Ancestor Chronicle so we can remember them here. 


~ Please share additional information or stories about this workhouse, by posting a message below ~


UK Institutions: Boyle Workhouse UK VIEW SOURCE
Boyle Workhouse Graveyard Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Boyle Workhouse: 3D tour and photos Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Boyle Workhouse Famine Report 1846 Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Boyle PLU: Earl Grey Famine Orphans Australia VIEW SOURCE
Boyle Workhouse: by Barry Feely Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Places in Boyle Poor Law Union Ireland VIEW SOURCE

Type of Building:



  • Please visit and watch the video of a virtual fly-over of Boyle Workhouse. It is an ongoing project and the video will be updated as the 3d Virtual world is being developed. This is the very first time such a 3D Virtulal World has been created of a Workhouse anywhere in the world as far as I am aware.

    Dave Derby

    Sunday 3rd March 2019 08:24AM

Some communities associated with this building

Some ancestors associated with these communities

Owen Lloyd Esq. 1631
Owen Lloyd Esq.
Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim DOB:1631
Owen Lloyd Esq. 1631
Owen Lloyd Esq.
Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim DOB:1631
Owen Lloyd Esq. 1631
Owen Lloyd Esq.
Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim Boyle (Roscommon) Estersnow (Roscommon) Killukin Boyle (Roscommon) Cloone (Leitrim) Ardcarn (Roscommon) Creeve (Roscommon) Kilmacumsy (Roscommon) Elphin (Roscommon) Killummod (Roscommon) Roscommon Leitrim DOB:1631