The Workhouse, Killala in Co. Mayo

Killala Workhouse opened in 1850 and at first, the old castle building was used. In 1852, a fever hospital was built behind the workhouse at Sea View Terrace.

The inmates of workhouses were given two meals a day, a breakfast of seven ounces of oatmeal and a pint of buttermilk, and a dinner of 3.5 pounds of potatoes and a pint of buttermilk. No alcohol, tobacco or tea was allowed and meals were to be eaten in strict silence. Men, women and children were separated and they had to earn their keep, the men breaking stones and the women spinning or knitting.

In November 1850 there were 736 people in the workhouse and a month later there were 820 people in it. In February 1851, there were 1075 inmates and by May this had increased to 1284, 104 of whom were ill in bed with small pox and other diseases.

After the famine, the workhouse stayed open until the early 1900’s as a hospital. It was knocked in 1949 by Langan Bros. to clear space for the houses that now stand in Sea View Terrace. The workhouse was pulled down with cables and winches. The stone was crushed by Mayo County Council to make roads and the windowsills and lintels were used for building gullets. A small portion of the workhouse wall still stands on the site.

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