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Workhouse Museum and Waterside Library

On the east side of Derry/Londonderry city, the Derry Workhouse Museum is located in a building that was established in 1832 to alleviate poverty. Adjoining the museum is Waterside Libbrary.


  • As potential emigrants came to Derry, a popular departure point, many of them discovered that they could not afford to pay for the passage.
  • They sought help at the workhouse in the form of food and shelter. Many were stranded there, unable to afford to leave.
  • Families were separated and many people died.
  • During these years of the Famine, more than one million people died from starvation and disease, and over 1.5 million fled the country entirely.
  • The Workhouse Museum presents a chronicle of that period in Ireland's history, using exhibits focusing on the devastation of the Famine as well as the details of life in the Workhouse itself.

The Workhouse in 1948 but continued to be used as a hospital until 1991. The Museum opened in 1997, occupying two floors of the building. Many of the original Workshouse features have been restored.


The workhouse is said to be haunted by several spirits, most notably the Blue Guardian. The blue guardian is the ghost is of a middle-aged woman who was once responsible for the welfare of the children but was notoriously strict and harsh in her punishments. She would lock children in cupboards if they showed any disobedience, no matter how much they cried or begged for forgiveness. Two children died in the cupboard when, one day, she heard that hear sister was ill and rushed to visit her, forgetting about the children. Dressed in her blue uniform, she is said to walk the corridors of the workhouse to this day, trying to atone for her misdeeds.


Derry Workhouse Museum and Waterside Library. Image:


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