The Vision

  • To develop a significant site into The Irish Workhouse Centre, a vibrant complex telling the story of the Irish Workhouse.
  • To find new, sustainable uses for the old buildings.

In so doing, to bring significant social, cultural and economic benefits to the area.

This vision is underpinned by:

  • a commitment to best conservation practice
  • a goal of excellence in all matters, financial, managerial and operational
  • an innovative approach
  • a commitment to ecologically sound methods, where at all practical

The basic idea of the Workhouse System was that families in dire poverty could enter the workhouse and work for food, thus avoiding death from starvation.

163 workhouses were built in Ireland from 1840 to 1853.  This was the single biggest building project undertaken in Ireland ever.

The workhouse system was an English solution to an Irish problem.  It failed.

For generations, the workhouse was barely spoken about.  The voices of the nineteenth century destitute were mainly unrecorded. The workhouse and its miseries are part of our history.  And so at the Irish Workhouse Centre, we tell the story of life in the workhouse and society at that time.

The Irish Workhouse Centre is located in an actual workhouse at Portumna, Co. Galway.  While the workhouse represents the life of the poor at this time, in Portumna, one can also visit the Castle, where the landlord lived and so see both sides of the story.

There is another dimension to the Irish Workhouse Centre.  It is an exciting conservation and redevelopment project.

We hope you enjoy your visit to our website and look forward perhaps to meeting you at the Irish Workhouse Centre.




The Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co. Galway, Ireland.

Tel: 00-353 (0) 90-9759200 | info@irishworkhousecentre.ie