Fermanagh County Museum
Fermanagh County Museum’s ongoing Enniskillen Workhouse Project aims to reopen the entrance block – the only surviving part of the town’s former poor house – with an exhibition about the institution, featuring the stories and memories of those who spent time there.
The workhouse closed in 1948 and the building became Erne Hospital before being demolished in 2014. In the exhibition, records and minute books will be displayed and used to tell the history of the institution for the first time.
The project also seeks to bring open reminiscence sessions into the community. Fermanagh County Museum has been offering reminiscence activities for more than six years with groups throughout Fermanagh, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, the Stroke Association and Clanmil Housing Association.
The walls of the workhouse will tell the narrative of the rooms haunted with stories intertwined with poverty, loss and illness for over 100 years.
“Through these open sessions it became clear that some participants have strong links to and memories of the workhouse,” says Catherine Scott, development officer – learning and access at Fermanagh County Museum. “The daughter of the last man to row the boat across to the house, the son of the last clerk of the house, and a former nurse who worked at the workhouse and Erne Hospital have all attended reminiscence sessions.
“In time, the walls of the workhouse will tell the narrative of the rooms haunted with stories intertwined with poverty, loss and illness for over 100 years.”
Local nursing home residents have been working with primary schools on the intergenerational reminiscence programme. The subject of the Enniskillen Workhouse will be integrated into this programme to prompt sharing of information and explore attitudes to poverty and government initiatives over the generations.