House of Industry (Dublin)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A House of Industry was established in Dublin by an act of parliament in 1703 for the removal from the streets of objectionable objects such as the destitute and vagabonds. It was located at the present site of St. James's Hospital, James's Street, and included 14 acres (57,000 m2) of land. The upkeep of this institution was paid for through taxes levied on sedan chairs, hackney coaches and a property tax applied throughout the city.[1]

In 1729 the House of Industry became a foundling hospital.[2]

Another House of Industry was founded in 1773 in Channel Row, modern-day North Brunswick Street, on the north side of the city.[3]

In 1796 it accommodated more than 1,700 people. Following an Act of the Irish Parliament, responsibility for its management was assumed by seven 'governors', elected annually by, and out of, the members of Dublin Corporation. At about this time, a number of mechanical innovations by Benjamin Thompson were incorporated into the building for improved ventilation, cooking and heating.

It is to be observed, that this institution differs very materially from any poorhouse, or other institution, in Great Britain, both in its object, its government, and its resources. In Ireland there are no poor laws, or local taxes, for the support of the poor. This institution was provided for the purpose of providing employment, and for the maintenance of the poor of Dublin, and for the punishment of the vagrants and beggars who infested the streets of that city. Observations of Thomas Bernard 1799 p156[4]

This building was later used as a foundling hospital following the construction of a new adjacent poorhouse. Described as 'the Dublin Poor House', it was visited by the French political theorist, Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835, during his investigative tour of Ireland. Tocqueville described the conditions of the inmates there as 'the most hideous and disgusting aspect of destitution'. The food provided was soup rendered from left-overs collected in a wheelbarrow from the wealthy.[5]

With the passage of the Irish Poor Law in 1838, the House of Industry on James's Street became the South Dublin Union and the one on Channel Row became the North Dublin Union.[6] [7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burke, Helen, The People and the Poor Law in 19th Century Ireland (Littlehampton, 1987), pp 9-10.
  2. ^ Tighe, Joan, 'Mendicity' in Dublin Historical Record, vol. 20, no. 3/4 (Jun. - Sep., 1965), p.103
  3. ^ Reynolds, Joseph, ‘’Grangegorman: Psychiatric Care in Dublin since 1815’’ (Dublin, 1992), p. 5.
  4. ^ Bernard, Thomas (1799). "Extracts from an account of the late improvements, in the house of industry, at Dublin". The Reports of the Society for bettering the condition and increasing the comforts of the poor. Society for bettering the conditions and increasing the comforts of the poor. pp. 99 to 107. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  5. ^ de Tocqueville, Alexis (1990). Emmet J. Larkin, ed. Alexis de Tocqueville's journey in Ireland, July-August, 1835. CUA Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8132-0719-3. 
  6. ^ Burke, Helen, The People and the Poor Law in 19th Century Ireland (Littlehampton, 1987), p. 10.
  7. ^ The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Oxford University Press. 2007. 25 Jul. 2009


  • Chapter X from Life in old Dublin by James Collins 1913