The Workhouse and The Unwanted (The Great Famine XVI)
The crumbling ruins of workhouses are one of the last visible reminders of the horrors of the Great Hunger in the Irish landscape. During the Great Famine they became home to the unwanted in Irish society. Ultimately over 300,000 people Irish people died in these institutions during the Great Hunger.
While they may have been unwanted by the late 1840s very few of the so called ‘inmates’ of workhouses were born unwanted. The show begins by looking at how people found themsleves in such a position by following the journey of one 14 year old boy, Patrick Duignan from Co Leitrim.
This is his story.
I also look at an often forgotten aspect of workhouses: the bitter and sometimes violent struggles for control of the running of these institutions which explains why so many died.