Virtual experience of Donegal’s workhouses

THE Donegal County Museum and the Donegal County Archives have collaborated for the launch of their latest publication, ‘The Workhouses of Donegal’.

The launch which took place on Tuesday also included an immersive virtual reality experience that was created by Paul McMahon from Virtual Teic, Gaoth Dobhair.

Mr McMahon used architect George Wilkinson’s original plans and the conservation report to reconstruct an exact replica of how the Workhouse would have appeared in the early 20th Century.


Students from Errigal College, students from the Donegal ETB and local councillors who attended the event were eager to have a shot at the virtual reality experience where they could walk through an exact replica of the Ballyshannon Workhouse.

Donegal County Council Cathaoirleach Liam Blaney officially launched the booklet which was funded under the 2022 Decade of Centenaries programme.

The event took place in the Donegal County Museum which is based in an old stone building that was once part of the Letterkenny Workhouse, which opened in 1845.

Archivist Niamh Brennan also spoke at the event. She shared her knowledge and insight into the history of the workhouses, which were created under the Poor Relief Act in 1838.

They are synonymous with the purported social care system that existed in Ireland, the new booklet explores how their role in society is often overlooked or misunderstood.

It also explores the early years of the Donegal Workhouses and examines the final years of the Poor Law system in Ireland.

The booklet outlines the history of the Workhouses in the county using the records held in the Donegal Archives.


These records are an invaluable source for the local, family and academic history from the era of the famine through to the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Donegal County Museum has also created a virtual walk through video of Ballyshannon Workhouse which is available online or for updates on when the VR experience will be available for the public follow their social media.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland