The Donegal Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1840. The Workhouse was opened in 1843 at a cost of £6,695. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 500 inmates. Though it is highly likely that this number was far exceeded during the years of the great famine. The Donegal Workhouse was built to accomodate people from the areas of Clogher, Donegal, Dunkineely, Gleneny, Inver, Laghy, Loughderg, Loughrask, Mount Charles, Tawnhawully, and Templecarn.
The site of the Donegal Workhouse is now occupied by the Donegal District Hospital with only one original building still standing.