Workhouse Fire in 1900
The Workhouse on the Shelbourne Road was a place of refuge for Bridget Carroll an inmate of the blind ward. This ward was long with a fire stove in the centre, while at either end of the ward there were open fires on grates. At seven o’clock on the night of Tuesday, 20th of March 1900, Bridget retired to bed but she was unsettled and arose again at half past nine, and began to wander to one end of the room.
At the time the attendant and some others were sitting around the stove in the centre of the dimly lit room. Suddenly they heard a noise and saw that someone had caught fire at the end of the room. They immediately went to assist the woman who however had been injured and subsequently died from shock. The jury at the inquest held the following day with the coroner M P Cleary presiding, it was decided that the open grates in the blind wards should be protected by wiring.
Unfortunately, as this recommendation was only applied to the blind ward as three days later in another ward of the workhouse an elderly woman caught fire, only to be extinguished by a Mr. P. McNamara of The Abbey, luckily the old woman survived.
Image of workhouse women from Leeds, but would be typical of all workhouses in the British Isles during this period.
Abandoned Ireland have an interesting article and photographs on Irish Workhouse