Inquests at the Dungannon Workhouse
In 1842 the Dublin Medical Journal reported on the death of William McGladrigan in Dungannon workhouse, one of the first deaths to occur in the house. McGladrigan was only in the workhouse three days when he died, but it was said that he had been sick for ten days previously. There was a dispute over whether an inquest was necessary, which rumbled on for some time, for in the early months of the workhouse system many things were uncertain to the master and his officials.
There were many deaths listed as having taken place in Dungannon workhouse during this period, about which we know very little.
The building was also frequently used as a place of inquest for deaths which occurred in the wider locality, the body being conveyed to the workhouse and a group of jurors formed to assist the county coroner in his duties.
In 1862 the Belfast Newsletter reported on the inquest which took place on the body of a man named John Mackey noting that he had:
found dead adjoining the workhouse in the grounds on the morning of Sunday the 21st it appeared in evidence before the jury that deceased had lately been admitted to the fever hospital and then partially recovered from the fever but they did his mind was far from sound he made some little disturbance shortly after he had been admitted in consequence of which the room was emptied of everything he was likely to use with violence he was in in he was insufficient health to take such nourishing food as the doctor ordered him on Saturday night shortly after the nurse had left the place he wrenched his strong piece of board that was fast into the wall which served as a little shelf out of its place with considerable violence and smashed out the window he then made his way out and doing so cut himself in several places he is seems to have made the main entrance gate and died shortly afterwards.
In 1909 the following tragedy was reported, with the inquest on the child’s body taking place in the workhouse:
Yesterday evening an inquest was held in the boardroom of Dungannon workhouse by Mr. John Malone, county coroner, with reference to the death of a little boy named Joseph Ferrity which had taken place in the District Hospital on the previous evening from the result of a scalding accident. A woman named Annie Boyle of Akinduff was examined and stated that the deceased who was three years and nine months old and another child had been boarded out to her but the Dungannon board of guardians five months ago. She was paid 5 shillings per week for the maintenance of both. On the morning of the 4th the deceased was dressed and placed in a little chair. She had a pot of boiling gruel which she took off the fire and placed on the kitchen floor. She turned round to get the lid to cover the pot but hearing a shuffling noise she looked back and saw the child scrambling out of the pot. She wrapped him in a shawl and ran to a neighbouring house where sweet oil was applied and the child was afterwards conveyed to the District Hospital… Nurse McGaharan and Doctor Twigg having given evidence of the extensive scalds received, the jury returned a verdict of ‘death from shock; the result of burns accidentally received.