Lecturer: Prof. Davis Coakley
This talk discusses the formation of the workhouse system in Ireland with particular reference to the workhouse of the South Dublin Union in 1840. It describes conditions within the workhouse and its role during the Famine. After the Famine the workhouse developed into what was described as a ’vast hospital for the destitute and sick poor’. There were complaints about the standard of care, and the governors responded by inviting nuns from the Mercy order to reform the institution.
During the Easter rebellion of 1916 the workhouse was occupied by the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers and two battles were fought in the grounds during Easter week. During the early 1950s, the South Dublin Union was extensively refurbished and became St Kevin’s Hospital. In 1971 St Kevin’s Hospital became St James’s Hospital.
Date of original lecture: 1st July 2019 at 11am