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The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, Co. Galway Photo by: Keith Nolan

Irish town offers opportunity to live like a Famine victim for a weekend

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The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, Co. Galway Photo by: Keith Nolan

A lot of the Irish Workhouses fell into ruin or were burned down in the years after the Famine, but one of the few remaining can be found in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon.

Today, it operates as a geriatric hospital called St.Patrick’s and this year, from the 3rd-5th of May, it will revisit the haunting past of its workhouse days by offering 30 self-sponsored participants the chance to stay overnight in the rooms of the original whitewashed attic as part of The Famine Attic Experience.

Between the years of 1845 and 1854, a devastating two million people were forced to emigrate from Ireland in search of a better life. For those that remained, the last resort was to enter a Workhouse but with the onset of the Famine, entire families had no other choice but to do so.

The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, Co. Galway writes that, as an inmate of a workhouse, individuals would be packed into crowded sleeping places with straw beds and ragged coverings with only a tub for urination. Disease was rampant and deaths were so frequent that corpses were carried away on special carts every day only to be thrown into mass graves on the grounds of the workhouse

The Famine Attic Experience will be commemorated with a ‘Survivors Cairn’ and a Society of Friends (Quaker) themed supper afterwards.

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