07 Jul 2022

Councillors to meet and dine in Laois famine workhouse

Councillors to meet and dine in Laois famine workhouse

Donaghmore famine workhouse museum in Laois.

Laois councillors are off to the famine workhouse next month where they will be eating better than the people it was built for.

Laois County Council’s monthly meetings still cannot return to council chambers due to Covid-19 social distancing rules.

For the past year they were held in the theatre of Dunamaise Arts Centre but it is now booked out as performances have resumed.

They agreed at their September meeting that October’s gathering will be at Donaghmore Workhouse and Agricultural Museum in south Laois.

Cllr John King is from nearby Rathdowney.  

“I’ll be delighted to welcome you to Donaghmore and provide you with lunch or a cup of tea and a tour. It is important to know what happened in the past, we are the future,” he said.

Cllr Padraig Fleming said he began his career in Avonmore in an office at the Donaghmore site, now restored as a historic monument for visitors.

Cllr Willie Aird said the building is “a stark reminder of harsh times”.

“It’s great we are doing it. Laois County Council put a lot of money in it,” he said. 

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland explained that under current guidelines only 13 people can be in the council’s own chamber.

“On October 22 a lot of restrictions will end,” he said.

The staff at the Dunamaise were thanked for their cooperation over the past year.

“There’s a phrase, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Well we’ve been able to perform here for the last few months,” quipped Cllr James Kelly. 

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum tells the story of families who lived and died within its walls before, during and after the Great Famine. An Agricultural Collection of artefacts donated by local people is also on display.


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