As well as providing accommodation for hundreds of people in the workhouse, the Dungannon Board of Guardians were also charged with providing outdoor relief to people throughout each of the 19 electoral divisions which made up the poor law union. The numbers receiving outdoor relief varied from time to time, but during the Great Famine period it was an essential part of the guardians work, ensuring people were fed and also that numbers did not swell in the workhouse.
In May 1847, for example some 3,729 rations were being given out on a daily basis ‘gratuitously’ across the union, while 409 rations were sold to those who could afford to pay something towards the cost. That number had increased to 5,514 rations by June. The table below illustrates that while the numbers receiving relief fell in 1848, it was still a significant operation for the guardians to oversee:
The provision of outdoor relief was one of the reasons why the Dungannon Board of Guardians strongly opposed the ‘Rate in Aid’ policy suggested by the government in 1849. The provision of outdoor relief would continue long after the Famine, albeit on a smaller scale.