Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum is a unique attraction in Co. Laois, Ireland and aims to tell the story of the families who lived and died within the Famine Workhouse walls before, during and after the Great Famine. The Museum uses guided and self-guided tours combined with various exibits to explain the socio-economic conditions which led to the establishment of this and other Workhouses.
Visitors to the Museum will also enjoy an agricultural collection made up of a wide range of artefacts donated by local people, rangeing from farm implements, household items and hand tools located in one of the two buildings that make up the Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum.
Famine Museum: The Great Famine of 1845-1849 had a considerable impact on the national consciousness down through the years. A system of relief was desperately needed at that time to relieve the suffering of the Irish people. The response was the setting up of the Poor Law Commission who built 130 Workhouses throughout the country.
Donaghmore Workhouse opened in September 1853. The authorities consciously devised a policy of maintaining the lowest standards of living within the workhouse. The workhouse was portrayed as a last resort. People feared most the loss of dignity associated with them. The lifestyle and rules of the workhouse system mitigated against the maintenance of a family structure. With a strong emphasis on religion and moral habits, wards divided the men from women, boys from girls. This stringent sex segregation within the workhouse system ensured that the traditional family structure was all but impossible to maintain. Donaghmore Union Workhouse closed its doors on the 25th September 1886.
One of the five buildings of the Workhouse Museum is restored to its previous state and stands empty with its white washed walls reflecting the bleak stories of life 150 years ago in the Workhouse.
Agricultural Museum: The Agricultural Museum has many exibits ranging from buttermaking, cultivation and horse drawn. Butter making goes back for thousands of years but it is basically the same, which is the agitating of cream. The display shows a range of churns used over the years.
The display of cultivation implements shows ploughs, tillers and sowing barrows. The three horse drawn implements shows a restored corn sower, sprayer and trap all used on Laois farms in the last fifty years.
GPS: 52.87713, -7.61146.