Swineford / Swinford (Mayo) and the Swinford Poor Law Union


 Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland.

Swineford Poor Law Union .


Swineford Poor Law Union was formed 11th April 1840 and covered an area of 207 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 21 in number, representing its 12 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one): Co. Mayo: Aughamore (2), Bohola, Kilbeagh (3), Killasser (2), Killeaden (2), Kilmoree (2), Knock, Meelick, Swineford (2), Toomore. Co. Sligo: Achonry (2). Co. Mayo and Co. Sligo: Kilmacteigue (2). The Board also included 7 ex officio Guardians, making a total of 28. The Guardians met each week at 11 am on Tuesday. The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 65,965 with divisions ranging in size from Knock (population 3,036) to Kilbeagh (8,639). Eventually the overseeing organization, the Board of Guardians’ were dissolved, and the (below) Map indicates which were dissolved and which were not. board_of_guardians_dissolved1847         In 1846 the Swineford (modern spelling Swinford) open and was quickly filled to capacity, the below was a quote from one of the Board Members:

On the dreadful 10th November 120 were admitted beyond the regulated number. Hundreds were refused admission for want of room, some unhappy being pushed on the high roads and in the fields. Influenced by terror and dismay — leaving entire districts almost deserted — the better class of farmers, in numbers, sold their property, at any sacrifice, and took flight to America. And the humbler classes left the country in masses, hoping to find a happier doom in any other region. In this Union 367 persons died in the workhouse; the Master of the workhouse also died.

 1879-81, Ireland suffered another agricultural crisis, with bad weather and poor harvests leading to food shortages and unemployment, with the west of Ireland being particularly afflicted. The British government instigated an ineffectual scheme to fund public works schemes via loans to land-owners. However, the main source of relief during the winter of 1879-80 came from voluntary and charitable organisations, with many Boards of Guardians restricting out-relief either as a matter of policy or because of lack of funds to pay for it. In the summer of 1880, the Local Government Board dissolved the Swineford Board of Guardians (and also those of the nearby Newport and Belmullet unions) for failing to collect sufficient rates to provide relief. The LGB then installed its own vice-guardians to try and restore the union to financial order.