Dunfanaghy Workhouse

Dunfanaghy Workhouse Heritage Centre

The Dunfanaghy Workhouse is located on the outskirts of Dunfanaghy village in North West Donegal. This impressive stone building is of great historical interest. It originated as one of the grim famine workhouses of the 1840s but today is a much more pleasant place incorporating a Heritage Centre that explores local history and culture.

Contact Details

t: 00353 (0)74 91 36540
w: www.dunfanaghyworkhouse.ie


As in many parts of Ireland in the mid nineteenth century, a Workhouse was constructed in Dunfanaghy for the detention and employment of destitute local people. The first occupants were admitted in June 1845 at the beginning of the Great Famine (An Gorta Mhór) of 1845-1850.  Conditions were extremely harsh.  Men, women, children and the sick were segregated and their lives were dominated by gruelling work. It rapidly becam overcrowded as the Famine took grip. Two years after it opened in 1845, it accommodated some 600 people – double the number originally planned.

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Heritage Centre

The Workhouse was restored and opened in 1995 as a Heritage Centre whose aim was to explore local history and culture. Permanent Exhibitions in the centre include the Workhouse Exhibition and the Wee Hannah Exhibition.

In The Workhouse Exhibition life in the workhouse is explained on an audio tape and supported by a model of the original workhouse and story boards explaining the rules, diet and life of the impoverished residents and the management.

The Wee Hannah Exhibition gives a more personal view of life in the locality in and around the time of the famine. Her story is told through a series of staged rooms and an audio tape. The visitor will hear Hannah talk of her harsh upbringing on a farm in the 1830’s, a grave illness, her time in The Workhouse and eventually a more peaceful old age

Other Facilities

Since its reopening the Dunfanaghy Workhouse has evolved into a multi purpose centre for locals and visitors alike. Other facilities include
Craft  & Coffe Shop
The Craft Shop has a wide range of gift and craft products available with an emphasis on goods made in Donegal, such as soap, jewellery, blankets and tea lights as well as prints, handmade cards and books by local authors.
The Workhouse Café has a range of sandwiches and toasties to suit everyone and everything is freshly prepared to order. All the soup is seasonal and home made.

Tourist Information
Tourist Information is available in the Workhouse with a range of leaflets and brochures on offer to guide visitors through the vast range of activities and services available in  Dunfanaghy and the Sheephaven Bay Area.
Art Exhibitions
From Easter to the end of Hallowen local and visiting artists exhibit their work in the Workhouse.

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