The Waterford Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1839. The Workhouse was opened in 1841 at a cost of £9,427. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 900 inmates. The Waterford Workhouse was built to accomodate people from the areas of Ballynakill, Croom, Drumcannon, Dunhill, Faithlegg, Island Keane, Kilbarrymeadon, Kilburn, Kilmacleague, Kilmeadon, Newcastle, Rathmoylan, Reisk, Rosmire, and Waterford in Co. Waterford, and Aglish, Dunkit, Kilbeacon, Kilbride, Kilcollum, Killahy, Kilkeasy, Kilmacon, Rathpatrick, and Rathkeeran in Co. Kilkenny.
During the worst years of the Great Famine in the 1840's, the Waterford Workhouse became severely over-crowded. Extensions created space for a further 200 inmates, but this was still not sufficient. As a solution, a number of auxiliary workhouses were opened throughout the town of Waterford.
During the 1870's the medical care at the Waterford Workhouse became the responsibility of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1921, after the formation of the Irish Free State, the Waterford Workhouse was repurposed as St Patrick's Hospital, and a few of the original features still survive today.
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