Workhouse to Hospital

This poem which was passed to us by Martin Toal was written in 1998 by Jim McParland, and was delivered by him at a 50th celebration of the National Health Service.

That celebration was held at the Mourne Country Hotel.  Present were a number of people who were employed in the old Workhouse – and some who remained on the staff in that building after its integration into the NHS.

Jim McParland was one such.   He wrote the following poem about his memories.

It’s nice to see some people that I worked with long ago
When the hours were long in Daisy Hill, and the wages they were low
There’s not too many of us left, I say this with regret
But the friends I made at Daisy Hill, I never will forget

I went to work in Daisy Hill in nineteen forty-two
T’was a Workhouse and Infirmary then, and staff were very few
A Senior Doctor and one Houseman, all patients, had to care
And for twenty-four hours per day,
their burden they did share.

There was no such thing as Physio or Audiomatrican
And you lived or died according to your physical condition
For self-employed people, State Benefit was nil
That’s why so many ended in the Workhouse on the Hill.

I’ve heard some hard luck stories of how they came in here
And often when they finished, I had to shed a tear
The place was run by Guardians then – sixty-two in all
Their meetings filled the papers, in memory I recall.

Complaints were only verbal then, that was the standard caper
And when you read the local news, your name was in the paper
The Workhouse closed in Forty-Eight, I remember well that day
When buses called at Daisy Hill, all inmates whisked away

For some this was their only home for many, many years
And as they bade us all goodbye, their eyes filled up with tears
T’was the end of an era and the Guardians lost their clout
They were reduced in numbers, which pleased us all no doubt!

So now we have a Hospital of which we are all proud
And if you are a patient there, you’ll sing its praises loud
I hope my little story was interesting to some
And trust the building will be there
For many years to come!

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