The Carlow Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1840. The Workhouse was opened in 1844 at a cost of £10,470. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 800 inmates. The Carlow Workhouse was built to accomodate people from the areas of Bagenalstown, Barragh, Borris, Carlow, Fennagh, Nurney, Grangeford, Idrone West, Kellistown, Kiltennell, Myshall, and Tullow in Co. Carlow, Arless, Graigue, and Shrule in Co. Laois, which at the time was called Queen's County. At a later point in time the following areas were added to the Union; Agha, Ardough, Ballickmoyler, Ballintemple, Ballon, Ballyellin, Ballylehane, Ballymoon, Burtonhall, Clogrenan, Clonegal, Corries, Cranemore, Doonane, Fernans, Garryhill, Johnstown, Kilbride, Killedmond, Killerigg, Leghlinbridge, Newtown, Nurney, Old Leghlin, Rathanne, Rathornan, Rathrush, Ridge, Rossmore, Shangarry, Sliguff, Tankardstown, Templepeter, Tullowbeg, and Turra.
In 1921, the Carlow Workhouse was occupied by the Irish Free State army, and the remaining inmates were removed to the town's barracks.
The Carlow Workhouse site is now occupied by a college.
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