The Workhouse Drawings Collection – now in UCD Digital Library

The Workhouse Drawings Collection – now in UCD Digital Library

UCD Digital Library, in collaboration with the Irish Architectural Archive, are honoured to announce that the Workhouse Drawings Collection is now available online.

The workhouse buildings, originally built between 1839 and 1847 to provide relief for the poor, have a controversial and tragic history that reverberates to this day. Designed in a Tudor domestic idiom, with picturesque gabled entrance buildings, 130 workhouses had been completed by 1847, overseen by architect George Wilkinson as part of what was considered the first phase of construction. A second phase of construction was undertaken during the Famine, with fever hospitals added to existing workhouses from circa 1847 onwards. Between 1849 and 1853, a further thirty workhouses were built, although these were plainer buildings with a different layout.

The Irish Architectural Archive is the custodian of the surviving architectural drawings for these buildings, and this digital collection is a representative sample of these drawings and plans, along with the Fifth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, and other ancillary documents. The online collection contains drawings and documents relating to the Mallow, Castleblayney, Lismore, and Gorey workhouses. The full Workhouse Collection, in the Irish Architectural Archive, includes the remaining drawings for eighty-one workhouses, all located in the twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland. Further information about the collection and its re-use can be obtained from the Irish Architectural Archive.

A blog post, written by the UCD Digital Library metadata librarian, Órna Roche, can be found in the UCD Library Cultural Heritage Collections blog.

Explore the Workhouse Drawings Collection online at