The Irish Workhouse Museum at Portumna recently began a programme of complete redevelopment. Our aim is to tell the story of the workhouse poor by displaying the items left behind by a forgotten people. Thanks to Community Heritage Grant funding and support from the Heritage Council, Heritage Officer Marie Mannion, Waterways Ireland and others, we’ve started to piece together the lives of workhouse paupers through a diverse range of items; small shoes, metal cups, wooden buttons, medicine bottles and more. Every single item from the largest to the smallest has its own story to tell.
We’d like to do more and with our newly purchased museum-standard display cabinets supplied by DARAC in Co. Monaghan, we hope to show how even small things have big stories. So, do you know of any workhouse-related material in your area that we at Portumna could borrow or accept as a donation? We are very lucky to have been approached by people willing to give us famine pots, bells, and other artefacts. These items tell the story of our ancestors and provide a link to our shared past, one that is often difficult and sad. We believe it is important to remember.
We also believe it is vital to collaborate and share information and resources. In this way, communities can connect, bringing their own local history to a much wider audience. Ultimately, the Workhouse Museum is working towards the goal of becoming a Workhouse Museum for all Ireland, not just Co. Galway.
See the story of our museum
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