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South Dublin workhouse site, 1836 South Dublin Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 6th June 1839 and covered an area of 69 square miles.Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 33 in number, representing its 9 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one): Co.The particular feature in the working of this institution, it appears, was "The Bottle." The Hospital Nurse deposed when examined on oath by the Committee that a medicine called significantly "The Bottle" was handed round to them all at intervals indiscriminately.She did not know what was in it, but supposed it was a "composing draught," for "the children were easy for an hour or two after taking it." The surgeon, when he did come, always asked if she had given them "The Bottle," but asked no other questions.In 1797 a Committee of the Irish House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the management of the establishment. It appears the children were "stripped" when sent up to the Infirmary (to die), and had the old clothing that they came into the House in put on them.That they were then laid, five and six huddled and crushed together, in the receptacles called cradles, "swarming with vermin," and they were then covered over with filthy and dirty blankets, which had been "cast" as unfit for use.The Poor Law Commissioners published a map of the new South Dublin union in their 1840 Annual Report: The existing House of Industry and Foundling Hospital were adapted under the supervision of the Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson.The building work cost £5,608 plus £4,591 for fittings etc.
The subsequent growth of the Foundling Hospital is illustrated by the following figures: The Foundling Hospital's popularity was no doubt due, at least in part, to its no-questions-asked policy.
Dublin City workhouse, 1762 The main classes of inmate were 'sturdy beggars', 'disorderly women', the old and infirm, and orphan children.
Up to 100 men and 60 women slept in bunk-like beds crammed into the workhouse cellars which were 240 feet (75 metres) long by 17 feet (5 metres) wide.
The surgeon knew all too well what the bottle was made up of, and that the children derived assistance from its contents. The Irish House of Commons adopted the recommendations of the Committee to reform the government of the Foundling Hospital.
The new Corporation of Governors came into office in 1798, under a special Act of Parliament, and the Foundling Hospital was "reformed." However, things appeared to improve little.