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.