New life for building with dark history

ONE of Enniskillen’s most significant buildings, the old Workhouse, is to be preserved for the history of the town.
The Workhouse on the site of the old Erne Hospital is to be transformed into a business enterprise and heritage hub.
The project, which will run alongside the new state of the art South West College on the site, is being developed by the local council and the College and it is hoped that the project will attract £2.3 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The building functioning as a workhouse is within living memory for many local people and the Council is very keen to engage with as many people as possible to gather and record memories of the workhouse. Fermanagh County Museum has already started this work but is very interested to talk to anyone who could provide information or stories about the workhouse.
Catherine Scott explained, ““It’s a hugely important area. It’s a hugely important building. So many lives were lost in Enniskillen Workhouse. So many lives walked through that front door.
“In terms of the overall plans for the site at Cornagrade, I think it’s crucial that it’s really aiming at education. That the college is going to be there and there’s going to be new life brought to the site will create an opportunity for more people who are at the site to learn about the workhouse. It’s a very stark visual reminder of a time in our history, not all that long ago,” she said.
The council has outlined that the aim of the project is twofold.
Desmond McCabe, an expert on the workhouse records, who is giving a talk to Fermanagh Geneaogy on Saturday, said, “It’s great to see such buildings re-used and kept in a good state of preservation.” The new space in the restored Workhouse, which will be managed by Enniskillen Museum, will be used for the display of digital workhouse records, exhibitions outlining the circumstances of people who had to enter the workhouse and reminiscence. It will be developed to tell the story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there.

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