01 April 2014

Computer Course For Beginners
First Ever National Conference on the Workhouse in Ireland
Portumna Castle & Gardens
Redwood National School - Reunion
The Local Bus
Mark Ryan - Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association Fundraising
Portumna Social Services
Conor O' Meara - Thank You
Charity Concert
Portumna GAA

Computer Course For Beginners
First steps - computer and internet course for beginners in Tynagh Old School. Course commencing soon. Irish Rural Link are holding 4 x 2 hour training session for €15 per person, over 65 free. Anyone interested please contact Jackie on 087 9422356.


First Ever National Conference on the Workhouse in Ireland
Considered to be the most hated and feared institution ever established in Ireland, the workhouse or poor house was the last resort of the destitute poor from the early 1840s to the early 1920s. A total of 163 workhouses operated in Ireland during this period.

The first national conference on the Irish Workhouse will take place on Saturday, 17th and Sunday, 18th May in Portumna, Co. Galway. The aim of the conference is to give a comprehensive overview of the workhouse system and to consider the future of workhouse buildings that remain today.

The conference will be opened by Ciarán Cannon TD, Minister for Skills and Training. The first speaker on the topic of ‘The Workhouse in Ireland’ is Peter Higginbotham, a writer and researcher best known for his extensive study of the workhouse and related institutions. He is the author of a number of books including The Workhouse Encyclopaedia, The Workhouse Cookbook, Voices from the Workhouse and A Grim Almanac of the Workhouse, and the creator of the website www.workhouses.org.uk. He has also contributed to many radio and TV programmes including Who Do You Think You Are?, Heir Hunters, Coming Home and Secrets from the Workhouse.

Following the opening presentation, Dr Gerard Moran will speak on ‘Disorderly Conduct: Riots and Insubordination in the Workhouses during the Great Famine.’ Dr Moran lectured at NUI Galway and at NUI Maynooth, where he was director of the MA in Irish History. He has published extensively on nineteenth-century Ireland and among his publications are Sending Out Ireland's Poor: Assisted Emigration to North America in the Nineteenth Century; Land, Famine, Emigration and Politics and The Mayo Evictions of 1860. He is joint editor of Galway: History and Society (Dublin, 1996) and of the forthcoming Mayo: History and Society.

The building of the workhouses was a massive undertaking, with 163 being built in a very short time. The architect to the Poor Law Commission was George Wilkinson who hailed from a family of builder architects in Oxfordshire. Though only 24 years of age when he took up the position, he demonstrated great skill and discipline in designing and overseeing the construction of the workhouses. Mairín Doddy, Architectural Conservation Officer with Galway County Council, will speak on ‘The Architecture of the Irish Workhouse.’

Most of the workhouses had infirmaries or hospitals attached. Originally, these were intended just for the “inmates.” No qualificatThe Local Busions were required for nurses and the level of care was very poor. However, from the 1860s, qualified nursing sisters began to make their way into the workhouses. Care of the sick improved greatly and the workhouse hospital was opened to non inmates. Dr Laurence Geary will speak on ‘Health Care Provision under the Irish Poor Law.’ Dr Geary is senior lecturer in history at University College Cork, where he teaches modern Irish history. He has published extensively on the social, political and medical history of nineteenth-century Ireland, and on the history of the Irish in Australia.

There were large numbers of children in the workhouse. Conditions were terrible for them. Many of the children who survived the famine yeas grew up in the workhouse. These children only knew the workhouse existence. One of the ways to get out of the workhouse, perhaps to a better life beyond, was through emigration. One such person was Mary Ann Taylor. Aged 18, she received assisted passage from Mountbellew Workhouse in County Galway to Australia in 1853. Her great grandson, Bill Marwick will recount Mary Ann’s story at the conference. Bill was born in York, Western Australia. He is a former mayor and councillor of the cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup. In 2009, he was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the Western Australia suburban newspaper industry, his local community and his contribution to the recorded history of the Cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup.

The Irish workhouse system was based on indoor relief, whereby people had to enter the workhouse and stay there, where they got food in return for doing some work. One of the cruellest aspects of the system was that family members were split up into separate quarters. Life was meant to be harsh so as not to encourage people to stay. In contrast to the indoor relief system which operated in the workhouses in Ireland, England and Wales, a system of outdoor relief was operated in Scotland. ‘The Poorhouses of Scotland’, presented by Peter Higginbotham, is the opening topic for the second day of the conference.

Many people associate the workhouse only with the horror of the famine years. However, between 1838 and 1921, the principal features of the Poor Law and the workhouse system remained largely unchanged. Dr Georgina Laragy will speak on ‘A Regional Perspective on Poor Relief in Post-Famine Ireland’. Dr Laragy completed her PhD Suicide in Ireland, 1831-1921 at NUI Maynooth in 2005. Since then she has worked as a Research Fellow on a variety of projects at Oxford Brookes, University of Limerick and Queen's University Belfast. She is interested in all aspects of Irish social history and has published on poverty, murder and suicide.

Before the famine years, while there was widespread destitution, the number of people entering the workhouses was low. However, by the autumn of 1846, with the potato crop diseased, it became clear just how bad the situation was. People were left with little choice. It was emigration, starvation or the workhouse. People began to flood in.

The system, based as it was on indoor relief, could not cope with the overcrowding, the disease and the deaths. Corpses, without coffins, were carried on carts day after day to be thrown into mass burial pits in the workhouse grounds. Dr Linda Lynch, a human osteoarchaeologist, who has studied the human remains in Manorhamilton, Cashel and Tuam workhouse will present her findings at the conference.

The workhouse system was abolished by the new Irish parliament in the early 1920s. In the six counties it continued to operate until the 1940s. Dr Sean Lucey, an Arts and Humanities Research Fellow in Queen’s University, Belfast will present on ‘Poor Law Reform and the End of the Workhouse post 1920. Perspectives from the North and South of Ireland.’ Dr Lucey has written extensively on Irish social, economic, political and medical history, and has a forthcoming book on the poor law in the Irish Free State.

‘Workhouse Buildings Today’ is the topic for the Sunday afternoon session. While many of the workhouse buildings were destroyed or became derelict, a number do survive today. Presentations on current efforts to find new appropriate uses for old workhouse buildings will be made on a selection of projects including the following workhouses: Callan, Co. Kilkenny; Donaghmore, Co. Laois; Bawnboy, Co. Cavan; Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan; Birr, Co. Offaly; Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford and Portumna, Co. Galway.

Guided tours of the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna will take place on both days of the conference. The Irish Workhouse Centre is located in the former Portumna Workhouse. It has been the subject of conservation and re-development work for a number of years and is now open to the public 7 days a week from February to November www.irishworkhousecentre.ie.

This conference is organised by the Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna in partnership with the Heritage Office, Galway County Council. The conference fee for both days is €60. This includes lunch and refreshments. For further information or to book: tel: 090-9759200 e-mail: info@irishworkhousecentre.ie or post: The Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co. Galway.


Portumna Castle & Gardens
The imposing façade of Portumna Castle faces north and is approached by a long avenue through three formal enclosures. Along with a visit to the restored walled kitchen garden, these combine to re-create a sense of the original setting. Built by Richard de Burgo, 4th Earl of Clanricarde and gutted by fire in 1826, it remains a wonderful example of Irish architecture of the early 17th Century. Restoration works are on-going.

Family History, Architectural features, Garden layout and stories told by our experienced guides bring this site to life for visitors of varied interests. Free Guided tour with admission ticket (subject to Guide availability). Free Admission, 1st Wednesday of each month. Free admission and guided tour for all Primary and Secondary schools, educational and fun quizzes are also provided. Open daily, 9.30-6pm from April 3rd to September 24th and weekends only, 9.30- 5pm during the month of October. Last admission 45 minutes before closing.

Facilities: Exhibitions, DVD, gardens, toilets, car park. Portumna Castle is surrounded by the town’s local attractions and amenities, i.e. Lough Derg and the River Shannon for water activities. Portumna Forest Park with colour-coded trails. Portumna Priory ruins and the reciently opened Irish Workhouse Centre. Close to the castle is a modern playground with toilets and picnic area. Local shops and restaurants are all within walking distance. Free school Tours, have access to all of the above and in addition, at a small cost, the use of Portumna ‘Sign Out’ Youth Café all weather pitch. Pre-booking essential.

Contact: Tel.:0909741658, email: portumnacastle@opw.ie, web: www.heritageireland.ie


Redwood National School - Reunion
To mark the 75th anniversary of the Redwood N.S, a reunion will be held for all past pupils on Saturday 7 June. It will commence with an open school during the day from 3 - 4pm to view roll books, photos etc. A special mass will be held in Redwood Church at 7pm and buffet dance at 9.30p.m. in Moatfield with music by Pat & Richie followed by Tradstone. Eamon O' Dywer will also be in attendance with Tipp FM down your way. Tickets €10.00. All are welcome!!


The Local Bus
Over the Easter period The Local Bus from Portumna to Loughrea Daily Service will not operate from Friday 18th April to Friday 25th April, and will recommence on Monday 28th April. All other Local Bus services will run as normal. All information regarding Local Bus Services, please contact South East Galway, Abbey St. Portumna tel: 090 9741867


Mark Ryan - Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association Fundraising
Mark Ryan is doing the Connemarathon on the 6th April. The Charity Mark supports is the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. In Ireland, one person dies every five days from Motor Neurone Disease; an incurable neurological condition. His dad Sean fought this disease for 8 years and sadly he passed away in May 2006. Mark runs marathons in his memory and to make a small contribution to help to fundraise for the Irish Motor Neurone Association, who assisted them greatly during the time Sean was ill.


Portumna Social Services
The AGM of Portumna Social Services took place on the 19th March 2014 last. The chairman welcomed every one with a special welcome for some new members.

A minutes silence was held for the untimely deaths of Trustees and Committee members Chris Smith and Sister Ronan. They were both deeply involved and dedicated to Portumna Social Services and their vision in building the centre to what it is today. They will be sadly missed and will be remembered for all their work and dedication.

The Chairman then gave a sincere thanks to the long standing Committee who always come up trumps, our dedicated and hard working staff, nurses, bus drivers and volunteers throughout the year for their very valuable contribution whether by way of help in the centre, meals on wheels, fundraising or in any other way which is always greatly appreciated.

There are presently 47 people in attendance 15 of whom are local and attend two or three days a week. The majority of all coming to the Centre are living alone. By attending the Day Centre it provides the opportunity to meet other people & keep in touch with what is happening.

A Community inclusion week was held in October this was organised by Orla Hayes. The name of the theme for our centre was “Old Stories Through Young Eyes”. Orla arranged and brought 25 students from Portumna Community School to meet up and talk and listen to people who were willing to take part in the project. It was wonderful success & the students are to be complimented on their politeness and for being so courteous to our older people. Orla conducted the whole programme with such patients and professionalism.

The Day Care Centre is a cheerful, warm and vibrant place and new people are always welcome. So why not drop in and visit us and see for yourself. There is always a cup of tea and one of Geraldine’s scones to be sampled.


Conor O' Meara - Thank You
A massive thank you to everyone who supported the recent coffee morning in SuperValu Portumna last week, in aid of Conor O' Meara's volunteer programme to Calcutta for 10 weeks this summer. The total raised was €1,025 and all donations go directly to the community and students he will be working with. A charity concert will be held on Good Friday in St. Brigid's Church for SUAS and Cancer Care West. Details on the event will be published in the next few weeks.


Charity Concert
A charity concert will be held on Good Friday in St. Brigid's Church for SUAS and Cancer Care West. Details on the event will be published in the next few weeks.


Portumna GAA
There was no winner of last week-ends lotto jackpot. The numbers drawn were 1 16 17 19. Three people matched three numbers.

The u16 hurlers got off to a good start in the first round of the championship when they secured a win over Kinvara at the week-end on a scoreline 4-9 to 2-6.

Well done to the Galway hulers on their win over Limerick last Sunday.


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