Work in progress: A tale of "braw berths"

Progress on the construction of the Workhouse was extremely slow. It was reported in the Carlow Sentinel of January 29th 1842 that only two men were actually employed on the building work. The Clerk of Works was meanwhile being paid two guineas a week just to supervise the labourers.

In March 1842, the Poor Law Commissioners stated in a letter that they felt that he should be retained on the site. They pointed out that any expense arising should be chargeable to the contractor. They said that the building work should be completed within the time specified in the contract. The work had, however, been held up due to unfavourable weather.

The Board of Guardians decided it would be prudent to insure the building, which was already in the process of erection, at a meeting in June 1842.

The official date of completion was 30th June 1842. It is clear, however, that the target date was considerably over run. Another report to the Board of Guardians on July 18th, stating that a building under construction in front of the Workhouse had been built with rubble instead of cut stone. The contractor had not fulfilled the requirements of the contract.

A committee was nominated to inspect the work forthwith and to communicate with the Poor Law Commissioners. The Committee comprised William Duckett, Henry Faulkiner, William Fishbourne (Jnr), Samuel Haughton and Henry Cary. Their report showed that the probationary houses were being built with rubble in order to save expense to the contractor. Furthermore, they were situated in a manner as to shut out the view of the cut stone in the main building from the public road.

It appeared that the contractor was being allowed to act according to his own wishes. The committee agreed to inform the Assistant Commissioner and hoped that measures to check out the matter would be implemented. The only reference by name to the Contractor, a Mr. Robinson, is from the 23rd July 1842. It stated "that Poor House contractors have 'braw berths' as a canny Scotchman would say, and such as should make such men as Mr. Robinson 'unco ceevil' to the Representatives of the cess-payers of the Union".

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