The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna is launching its new museum offering today to further the goal of education people on its history.
The new museum is the product of months of effort to categorise artifacts and display them to illustrate the story of the workhouse system here in Ireland.
Galway TD and Minister of State for Community Affairs Seán Canney will launch the new museum at the former Portumna Workhouse on Saturday at 5pm.
We look forward to welcoming Minister for State @SeanCanney TD to the Workhouse this afternoon [5pm] to launch our new museum element as part of @MuseumWeek. #PhotoMW #WorkhouseCentre@pobal @IrishMuseums @IRLHHeartlands @GalwayCoCo @VisitPortumna @HeritageHubIRE pic.twitter.com/j9exUYp42j
— IrishWorkhouseCentre (@IrishWorkhouseC) May 18, 2019
The Portumna Workhouse opened in 1852 after previously sending those considered undesirable by the community to the one in Loughrea during the famine years.
It was built to hold 600 residents and continued in operation until the early 20th century, though very few records survive to detail its history during the intervening time.
According to the The Irish Workhouse Centre, the 1911 Census of Ireland showed 12 staff, 64 residents and 4 people classed as “idiots and lunatics”.
In the winter of 1921-22 it ceased operations altogether and In the time since then various bodies such as Bord na Mona, the OPW, County Council used it as an odd space for storage or offices.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the South East Galway Integrated Rural Development Company a non-for–profit local development company began working with the Western Health Board on the conservation of the old workhouse.
After more than ten years of restoration efforts it opened to the public as the Irish Workhouse Centre in 2011 to attract visitors to the area and educate people on the history of the location.
The new museum opening today is the latest step in that effort, soliciting the people of the surrounding area for any photographs, documents, or artifacts they may have had in their possession to help bring this piece of history to life.