Galway County Council


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Archive Collections


Poor Law Unions - Rural District Councils - Board of Health & Public Assistance - Galway Hospitals - Galway County Council - Loughrea Town Commissioners -
Private Collections - Small Collections
Please note that none of the images on our web site may be reused, transmitted, or published without the written permission of GCCA 


Hereunder are summary details of the main collections held by the Archives. In some instances there is a link to a collection's descriptive list, describing its content. In other instances, so as to provide samples, a digistised version of a collection is included, such as for Galway Infirmary (GH2/).  In all cases copyright remains with Galway County Council.

Consult the on-line catalogue for a full listing of available collections.


Poor Law Unions (Workhouses / Boards of Guardians)

The poor law act for the 'more effectual Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland' was introduced to Ireland by the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838 and operated until 1925. The Poor Law system was originally constituted for the sole purpose of relieving paupers in workhouses, but by the 1880’s had gathered to itself a great variety of powers. George Wilkinson, Architect, designed the workhouses.  Under the Act the country was divided at first into 130, later increased to 163, different poor law union administrative districts, each of which had a workhouse, financed by poor rates paid mostly by landowners. The Union areas in Ireland were formed by describing an area of ten miles radius around each market town.

  PLU Volumes, view of spines     

There were ten workhouses in county Galway.  Those at Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, and Tuam were established in the 1840s. The Unions at Glenamaddy, Mountbellew, Oughterard and Portumna were established in 1852. 

Galway County Council Archives holds some archives, mainly Board of Guardian minutes, from all Unions except Oughterard, and only one item for Portumna Union.


Map of Galway City, circa 1900  

Map of Galway City, circa 1900, showing location of the Workhouse and County Hospital

 Guide 8 - PLU minute.jpg

Rural District Councils

Rural District Councils were set up under the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898. Their powers were conferred upon them by Sections 2 to 39 of the Act.

 Guide 10 - RDC minute books_100.jpg

The Councils assumed responsibility for the road and public works functions of the Grand Juries where the cost had been borne by the district, and the housing and public health functions of the Boards of Guardians. In the early years of County Councils much of the routine business was transacted through these Councils. The Poor Law Guardians were also the Rural District Councillors; the same individuals but working in a separate capacity.

The Councils played an important administrative role in the period pre-dating the formation of an independent Irish state, and when democratic local government was first established and developing in Ireland. The Councils were dissolved in October 1925 under Section 8, Sub-section (2), (3), and (4) of the Local Government Act of that year. Their functions were transferred, under the Local Government Act of 1925 to the county councils.  County councils were in turn required to discharge their new sanitary duties through boards of health and public assistance.  These boards also had responsibility for the supervision of county homes, hospitals and dispensaries, housing, water and sewerage, home assistance and a number of schemes including blind welfare, boarded out children, infectious diseases, tuberculosis and the school medical service.

Galway County Council Archives holds the following collections:

All of the above Rural District Council collections are available on microfilm

Board of Health and Public Assistance

When the Poor Law was abolished in 1925 the Guardians' remaining functions were transferred to county councils, administered through Boards of Health and Public Assistance.

These Boards were established by County Councils in countries outside of Dublin under the Local Government Act, 1925 to operate as executive committees of the county council to perform health, sanitary and housing functions, assuming responsibility for administering measures against infectious diseases and tuberculosis, sanitary arrangements, labourers’ cottages schemes, water and sewerage schemes and school medical services in small towns and villages. The Boards were abolished in 1942 and their functions taken over by the County Council. The workhouses were replaced by a system of county homes for the old and infirm and hospitals for the sick.  Outdoor relief was replaced by home assistance.


Galway Hospitals 


Galway County Council

The Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 formally established county councils. Galway County Council held its first meeting in April 1899.

This is an extensive collection consisting of records for the various sections of the Council, such as Water Services, Environment and Housing.  However, the bulk of this material has yet to be processed (cleaned, listed and arranged).  As it is the policy of the Archives to only make processed material available to researchers your patience is appreciated, while this slow and painstaking but worthwhile work is undertaken.   

 1st Co.Co. photo_250.jpg
  Photograph of Galway's first County Council, pasted into its first volume of minutes, GC/1/1
As collections become available they will be added to our on-line catagloue. Some of the records currently available include:-
Tuam Burial Ground Plot Book, GC/Env1/27, 21 October 1882- 31 December 1902
Tuam Burial Ground Plot Book, GC/Env1/28, 30 December 1902 - 16 February 1920

Loughrea Town Commissioners

The Commissioners were first established in 1861. However, the minutes are extant only from 1909.


Private Collections

The Archives holds several private collections, including:

 Bairead Cd & Descriptive list.jpg 


Small Collections

  • Lawrence, William, of Lisreagh (Belview), Lawrencetown, Family Book and Photograph Album, c.1882, GS01/1:  Leather bound album of photographs of portraits of various members of the Lawrence family, the local village, & the interior of and frescoes at Lisreaghan, generally includes biographic detail on the leading family members together with a brief family history, and an account of the geography and history of Lawrencetown.  The album is available, in its entirety, on the Ask About Ireland website.

  • Loughrea Social & Literary Club, 1892-1895, GS01/8: Handwritten minutes of proceedings of the General and Committee meetings of the Club.  Available on microfilm
  • Mansergh, Richard St George, Headford, 1775, 1832, GS01/5: Leather bound gilt-edged volume with maps and descriptions by Charles Frizell of the Mansergh estate at Headford, county Galway; includes rent roll detailing denominations, and tenants and occupiers names.