Council Chairman opens “State of the House, State of the Nation; The Famine, the Workhouse & Beyond” exhibition

8th March 2019

A new exhibition entitled “State of the House, State of the Nation; The Famine, the Workhouse & Beyond” was officially opened by Councillor Howard Thornton, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council at Enniskillen Castle; Fermanagh County Museums on Saturday 2 March 2019.

The exhibition looks at the Enniskillen & Fermanagh Workhouses during the famine years 1845-1849 & beyond. It also looks at the future of the workhouse building and its central role in revealing its past.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Councillor Thornton said,

“The Great Famine was one of the most defining episodes in modern Irish history. In the years, 1845 – 1849 more than 1 million people lost their lives and 2 million people emigrated as successive years of potato blight impacted heavily on the staple diet of the time. Enniskillen workhouse was opened in 1845 with a capacity of 1000 people and at the height of the famine housed over 1400 people. Through this exhibition, we are remembering its difficult past and the role it played in trying to alleviate poverty both during the famine and in the years afterwards while at the same time looking to the future.”

Enniskillen Workhouse opened in 1844 to accommodate up to 1,000 people who, due to a range of circumstances, found themselves in financial distress. The building was one of 160 workhouses throughout Ireland which were designed by architect George Wilkinson. It closed in 1948 having served the people of the area for more than 100 years.

The Central Admission building which is all that remains of the original building is currently the subject of proposals to create a business enterprise and heritage hub.

The project is being developed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in partnership with South West College and has received a Round 1 development grant of £221,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Heritage Enterprise programme to develop proposals, detailed plans and designs for the project.

These designs will be included in a Round 2 application for a £2.3 million grant that will be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund later this year.

The “State of the House, State of the Nation The Famine, the Workhouse & Beyond” exhibition continues Fermanagh County Museum until 30 June 2019. Normal opening times and admission rates to the Museum apply. For further information please visit or telephone 028 6632 5000.