Midleton Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 16th February 1839 and covered an area of 227 square miles.
The new Union workhouse was erected in 1840-41 on a seven-acre site, the gift of Viscount Midleton, at the north
of Midleton. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, and based on his standard plans
to accommodate 800 inmates. Its construction cost; £6,853 with an additional £1,347 for fitting out. The workhouse
was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 15th June 1841, and received its first admissions on
the 21st August. An entrance and administrative block, now replaced, stood at the west. It contained a porter's
room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above. The main accommodation
block had the Master's quarters at the centre, with male and female wings to each side. During the famine eras, an
extra wing was built and stables appropriated to accommodate 200 extra inmates. Its operation was overseen by an elected
Board of Guardians, 32 in number, representing its 21 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate
numbers of Guardians if more than one):
The Board also included 10 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 42. The Guardians met each week at 11am on
By 1863, a vacancy occurred for a School Master for the workhouse. The Board of Governors eventually appointed William
Roche, a native of Midleton. Records proved that his appointment resulted in a marked improvement of the educational
standards, where an inspector’s report states; "he discharges his duties with great zeal and efficiency".
In November of the same year of William Roche’s appointment, an inspector’s report for Mary Daly of the adjoining
Female school states; "The excellent answering of the girls and the remarkable progress of many of them to higher
classes, reflects the skill and energy of this young teacher". Mary had been appointed Schoolmistress on the
15th January 1861, having been trained as a monitress at Midleton’s Presentation Convent. Here she remained
for almost ten years. Upon her departure Mary was presented with a Prayer book. On the inside cove may be found the
"Presented to Mary Daly by the Nuns of the Presentation Convent Midleton as a mark of their esteem and approbation
of her extreme good conduct while at this school." "Feast of the Purification 1861."
A mere twenty seven years earlier, 1834; the Presentation Order was brought to Midleton by Parish Priest, Stephen
William Coppinger, nephew of Bishop William. Born, 04 January 1803, and known simply as Stephen, was the son of
cousins, Stephen William Coppinger & Joanna Coppinger, Rossmore, Carrigtwohill. He died 21 October 1851, and rests
alongside his Presentation Sisters in their beautifully laid out burial ground of the convent which is now unfortunately
no more. All were exhumed and reinterred during rebuilding which took place over the original convent cemetery.
On the 29th October 1869, William Roche addressed the following note to the Board of Governors;
"With respect, I beg to state that I consider it my duty to inform you that I intend to get married to Miss Daly,
Schoolmistress, on next Sunday, with your approval."
Midleton’s Marriage register confirms the date as being, 31st October 1869.