Enniskillen workhouse to be 'brought to life' with lottery funding

The entrance block of the Enniskillen workhouse will be restored and brought back into use

THE untold story of a Co Fermanagh workhouse is to be "brought to life" after a project to turn it into a business enterprise and heritage hub took a major step forward.

A new project will transform the remaining Enniskillen Workhouse building with the help of a £221,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The HLF is supporting plans by Fermanagh and Omagh district council and South West College to develop the workhouse, which dates back to 1844.

The building was one of 160 workhouses throughout Ireland designed by architect George Wilkinson and was opened to accommodate 1,000 people who, due to a range of circumstances, found themselves in financial distress.

The main workhouse was demolished in 1964 and all that remain is the Grade B2 listed entrance block, which is currently 'at risk' and in need of urgent repair.

The proposals will see the entrance block of the building restored and brought back into use as a hub for business innovation and enterprise, while part of the building known as the Master's Room will be redeveloped as mixed-use exhibition, reminiscence and display space.

The surviving workhouse records and minute books will be put on display and used to tell the story of the workhouse and the people housed there for the first time.

Paul Mullan from the HLF said the project will "utilise this hugely significant building to create a better future for the people of Enniskillen and beyond".

"The project will create a state-of-the-art business development hub, providing opportunities for skills development, accredited training and apprenticeships in heritage skills throughout the restoration," he said.

"The previously untold story of the workhouse and the people who were housed there will also be brought to life in the mixed-use exhibition and display space.

"Without this investment the building and its history would be in real danger of being lost."

Stephen McCann, chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, said "for many people in the area, the workhouse is still a living reminder of times gone by".

"It is important to highlight and remember this very important part of our shared history in a meaningful and respectful way," he said.

Michael McAlister from South West College said the restoration will "create exciting opportunities for young people in Fermanagh to develop new skills in heritage restoration and follow new entrepreneurial career paths".

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