[Up to 1838] [After 1838] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] In 1703, an Act of the Irish Parliament provided for the setting up of a House of Industry in Dublin 'for employing and maintaining the poor thereof' (O'Connor, 1995).A workhouse was subsequently erected south of the River Liffey on land at the south of (Saint) James's Street and was administered by a body called 'The Governor and Guardians of the Poor' whose members included the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor, the Lord Chancellor, the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and members of the Corporation.Dublin City workhouse, 1762 The main classes of inmate were 'sturdy beggars', 'disorderly women', the old and infirm, and orphan children.Up to 100 men and 60 women slept in bunk-like beds crammed into the workhouse cellars which were 240 feet (75 metres) long by 17 feet (5 metres) wide.The surgeon knew all too well what the bottle was made up of, and that the children derived assistance from its contents. The Irish House of Commons adopted the recommendations of the Committee to reform the government of the Foundling Hospital.The new Corporation of Governors came into office in 1798, under a special Act of Parliament, and the Foundling Hospital was "reformed." However, things appeared to improve little.In the period 1791-1796 a total of 5,216 infants were sent to the infirmary with a solitary one recovering.
The very large proportion of the children admitted who shortly after admission died attracted attention on several occasions.A new House of Industry was set up on a site at the north side of the Liffey, leaving the existing premises continuing to operate as a Foundling Hospital.The subsequent growth of the Foundling Hospital is illustrated by the following figures: The Foundling Hospital's popularity was no doubt due, at least in part, to its no-questions-asked policy.Their report noted that South Dublin had separate infirmaries for Roman Catholic and Protestant patients, staffed respectively by nuns (Sisters of Mercy) and deaconesses, with a large number of pauper inmates acting as nursing assistants.Although some of the deaconesses had been trained at Tottenham Hospital, the nuns lacked any formal nursing training.The particular feature in the working of this institution, it appears, was "The Bottle." The Hospital Nurse deposed when examined on oath by the Committee that a medicine called significantly "The Bottle" was handed round to them all at intervals indiscriminately.She did not know what was in it, but supposed it was a "composing draught," for "the children were easy for an hour or two after taking it." The surgeon, when he did come, always asked if she had given them "The Bottle," but asked no other questions.A further Act in 1730 extended this role to cover all foundling children and a substantial part of the workhouse was allocated to this, with the workhouse being renamed the Foundling Hospital and Workhouse of the City of Dublin.In 1772, the establishment's functions of the House of Industry and Foundling Hospital were separated and placed under separate management.This body, which met monthly, had powers to place people in the workhouse, and to discipline those already there if they disobeyed workhouse regulations.Punishments could include flogging, imprisonment or deportation.