Donaghmore Workhouse

The Midlands

The unadorned stone Donaghmore Workhouse, 19km west of Durrow, was a last resort for the destitute in the 1850s – one of 130 workhouses in the country at the time. Conditions were intentionally grim so the poor wouldn't stick around. They didn't, as scores died in the harsh conditions before the workhouse closed in 1886. Today the remaining buildings hold a collection of simple displays that detail this cruel story.

A sign near the entrance notes: 'By the time the Donaghmore Workhouse opened in 1853, most of the poor of the area had already perished from starvation or sickness or had emigrated.'

Overcrowding was rife, families were separated (often permanently), meals (no more than a bowl of gruel) were taken in silence, toilets were crude and bedding was limited. The loss of dignity that came with entering the workhouse was a tragic reality for many.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Midlands attractions

1. Roscrea Castle

9.44 MILES

This remarkably intact stone edifice right in the centre of Roscrea town dates to the 1280s. There are two fortified stone towers, surrounded by defensive…

2. Market House

11.28 MILES

Built in 1836 by Viscount de Vesci as a market house, this landmark building was restored by the council in 2009 and now houses the town library and an…

3. Abbeyleix Heritage House & Museum

11.44 MILES

An old 19th-century school building houses this museum detailing Abbeyleix' rich history. One room looks at the town's carpet-making legacy – the Turkish…

4. Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve

12.36 MILES

A 2300-hectare nature reserve with a mountain range in the middle, full of walking and biking trails. A visit to Slieve Bloom is the perfect excuse to…

5. Heywood Gardens

13.03 MILES

These lavish gardens with lakes and woodland were designed by Edwin Lutyens and landscaped by Gertrude Jekyll, and completed in 1912. The centrepiece is a…

6. Leap Castle

13.3 MILES

Leap Castle is reputedly one of the most haunted castles in Europe. Originally an O'Carroll family residence, the 1514-built castle was the scene of many…

7. Stone Pyramid

15.84 MILES

Look out for the unexpected 10m-high stone pyramid in the village graveyard behind St Finian's Church. In the 1830s Richard Bernard commissioned this…

8. Kinnitty High Cross

15.97 MILES

The sandstone shaft of the 9th-century Kinnitty High Cross from the Augustinian Abbey now stands in the grounds of the Kinnitty Castle Hotel. Adam and Eve…