Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum
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Margaret Fitzgearld

Life in the Workhouse brought with it many tragic tales and heartbreaking stories. The story of Margaret Fitzgearld is just one of them.

Margaret Fitzgearld entered the Workhouse a young woman on the 28th September 1859 and her story is a tragic one.

22nd October 1859
A form. Sent by the Poor law Commissioners in Dublin, was to be filled out by the Board of Guardians concerning the proposed emigration of Margaret Fitzgearld. The form was to be completed and returned to the Commissioners, with a certificate concerning the health, from the medical officer.

2nd November 1859
An enquiry, regarding Margaret Fitzgearld was sent from the Poor Law Commission in Dublin, and communicated to the Board. The enquiry regarded the length of time Ms. Fitzgearld had been a continuous resident on the Workhouse. I also requested a report on her behaviour, morally and otherwise, since her arrival at Donaghmore.

The clerk replied stating the date of her entry, while the master confirmed her conduct was good. The Guardians advised that emigration might help her retrieve her character.

15th November 1859
The Poor law Commissioner replied stating he was doubtful whether her proposed emigration should be sanctioned due to her recent admission to the Workhouse.

28th December 1859
Fitzgearld is charged with, and entered into the Punishment Book, for beating another woman, Anne Bergin. When this issue was raised at the Board meeting it appeared that this had been the second time this month Fitzgearld had attacked Bergin.

Four of the Guardians present were equally divided on whether to discharge her from the Workhouse or send her before the magistrates at petty sessions to be dealt with by law. Both resolutions were lost and no order was made on the subject.

4th January 1860
Anne Bergin took her discharge and summonsed Fitzgearld to the magistrates for beating her. For the offence Fitzgearld was sent to the Maryboro Goal for four months.

25th April 1860
After being released from Goal Margaret Fitzgearld returned to Donaghmore Union Workhouse in search of refuge. On being refused admittance she broke five panes of glass in the waiting hall. She was arrested and ordered to be prosecuted.

4th July 1860
Margaret Fitzgearld was to be prosecuted for breaking the glass when sufficient evidence was found against her.

13th July 1860
It was ordered that the glass broken by Fitzgearld was to be replaced. Sanctioned.

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum, Donaghmore, Portlaoise, Co Laois, Ireland. Phone : +353 (0)86 8296685 +353 (0)87 9172008 E-mail:
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