Remembering the workhouse dead

From the the 1970s onwards, Margaret MacGinty, a member of Donaghmore Historical Society, and others campaigned to have a plaque erected at the site of the former Dungannon Workhouse as a reminder of those who had sought refuge there and for the many who had died there throughout its history, but particularly for the large numbers who died there during the 1840s.  The 150th anniversary of ‘Black 47’ (1847) was deemed an appropriate time to do so. 

In a twelve day period in March 1847 more than thirty people died in the workhouse, with an average of twenty-two years. The dead included James Magurk aged just eight months; Hugh Woods from Dungannon aged one; Margaret Donnel aged 1 from Benburb;  William Blevings of Drumaspil aged two and Andrew Williams one year and nine months old from Benburb.  In all 22 of the 32 were under the age of fifteen. It was these innocent victims of the Great Famine and of the Workhouse system that Margaret and her colleagues in the Donaghmore Historical Society wished to remember. 

The plaque unveiled on Quarry Lane in April 1997 read: 

To the memory of all those who found shelter in the workhouse within these walls 1843-1948 and to the men women and children who died and were buried within during the Great Gamine 1845 to 1849.