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Ballyshannon Virtual Workhouse


The Workhouse was a building made to house the poor. The Ballyshannon Poor Law Union was created on June 5th, 1840, covering an area of 214 square miles which included districts in nearby counties Leitrim and Fermanagh. Between 1841-42, the Workhouse at Ballyshannon was constructed at a cost of £5,850 for the building and £1,100 for the fittings. The contractor was a Mr Creden. The first paupers were admitted on 1st October 1842.  It officially opened 6th of May 1843 to accommodate 600 inmates. It was the first Workhouse to open in County Donegal. It closed on the 1stMarch 1922.
The Workhouse is synonymous with the purported social care system that existed in Ireland prior to Independence, but its role in society has often been overlooked or misunderstood.
By using the plans for workhouses devised by the Poor Law Commissioners Architect George Wilkinson in the 19th Century and the conservation report undertaken for Ballyshannon Workhouse, Donegal County Museum and the Donegal Archives Service, Culture Division, Donegal County Council commissioned Virtual Teic to create this virtual reconstruction of Ballyshannon Workhouse as it would have appeared in the early 20th Century. This Virtual Workhouse captures a moment in time when the Workhouse system was still in use prior to the changes which resulted in the aftermath of the Revolutionary Period. This project has been funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Community Strand of the 2022 Decade of Centenaries programme as part of the Decade of Centenaries Initiative 2012-2023.
VR Model Control
There is a menu at the bottom of the screen with annotations for navigating through the model, or if you get lost.

Mouse Controls

Hold the left button to pan around, up and down. Scroll wheel to zoom in and out. Hold down scroll wheel and move mouse to move up and down and left to right.


To read Donegal County Museum's and Donegal County Archives newly launched Decade of Centenaries publication 'The Workhouse of County Donegal' booklet online 

it is available here




View it here


To discover more about Donegal Workhouses Records 

Donegal County Archives holds almost 400,000 items relating to the eight Workhouses of County Donegal, dating from 1840 to 1923. The archive, known as the Poor Law Union Collection consists mainly of minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians in each Union and Admission and Discharge Registers. There are also statistics, dietary records, correspondence, posters and notices, Registers of Deaths, a punishment book, dispensary records, a visiting committee register, photographs and accounts. The archives can be viewed by appointment at the Donegal County Archives, 3 Rivers Centre, Lifford, Co Donegal.

E [email protected] or are available online at