Finding Ogle: The Story of the Disappearing Workhouse Master

In 2019 David Broderick, local historian, and workhouse researcher began work to uncover the mystery behind the fate of Henry Ogle. Ogle was the first master of Portumna Poor Law Union and in 1864 he absconded from the workhouse leaving it in a precarious financial position. You can follow the story in David’s book available from [email protected]

The tale begins in famine-ravaged Ireland and explores the cruelty of the workhouse, crossing the Atlantic during the period of the American Civil War in the attempt to locate Ogle in New York. The book is illustrated by Jenny Wood Sullivan who has brought the characters to life.

Finding Ogle will appeal to historians, lovers of mystery, and anyone who likes a gripping tale. The life and crimes of Henry Ogle is an almost unbelievable tale of fraud, deceit, escape to New York, and twelfth-hour retribution. This is a case where fact is more fascinating than fiction and David’s meticulous research is brought to life by a rich array of images. Jenny-Wood Sullivan is the illustrator of  Finding Ogle, and her evocative drawings transport us to the middle of the 19th century. It is always a challenge to depict figures from the past but the fluid and dynamic nature of Jenny’s drawings convey a sense of immediacy and action to David’s words. The book is currently on sale at The Irish Workhouse Centre and via [email protected]

Workhouse staff with David Broderick at the launch of Finding Ogle