The Workhouse Enniskillen officially opened on Friday 10 March 2023 thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarding funding of £2.3m in 2019 to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in partnership with South West College.
The building has been sympathetically restored, conserving its important historic features, highlighting its fascinating history, and offering a modern business enterprise facility and heritage hub on this landmark site.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, together with match funding contributions of £231,935 each from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and South West College, the project saw the restoration of this large Victorian stone building, with new life breathed into the walls of the Workhouse.
Original architectural features have been revealed and restored. Artefacts, such as the Enniskillen Workhouse bell have been brought home to awaken the Workhouse once again.
This is the only Workhouse in Northern Ireland telling the story of its inmates, the famine period, and the lives of those within it up to its closure.
The dedicated heritage space includes stories of some of the people who lived and died in the Workhouse. These former residents have now been given a voice to tell their stories through a mixed-use exhibition, reminiscence, display area and a dedicated heritage trail.
In addition, and looking to a positive sustainable future, part of the Workhouse has been transformed into a modern business innovation and enterprise hub.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, working in partnership with South West College, aim to establish a business hub to support the needs of local start-ups and budding entrepreneurs and facilitate the creation of high growth companies in the local area.
The business hub contains co-working desks, private office, event and meeting spaces, with desks available to hire on a part-time and full-time basis.
Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Barry McElduff commented:
The conservation and transformation of the Workhouse has been excellent, and we are delighted with the finished result.
Our ambitious project supported with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund show how an historic building with an emotive past can be restored to become not only a sustainable asset for the local community, and visitors nationally and internationally but can also provide a supported environment for the creation of high growth companies, vital for the growth of the local economy.
Celine McCartan, Chief Executive of South West College added:
We are delighted that the Workhouse is now open to the public following the truly inspiring transformation of the building. South West College is immensely proud of our partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on this project and the outcome demonstrates the very best in collaborative working arrangements.
Through this project, the College has delivered an inspired heritage skills programme. We also look forward to our students making use of Workhouse facilities as they further their learning and begin to create new business and social enterprise ventures.
Gavin Morgan, esc Director who attended the official opening said:
The Workhouse Enniskillen has been an interesting project and one we are very proud to have helped deliver. There were many varied elements to the project which brought together our extensive experience in programming and costing on conservation and heritage projects, education facilities, and museums and visitor centres. The Workhouse links directly via an underground power and data connection to the South West College Erne Campus ‘RICS UK Project of the Year 2022’ on which we were also Project Manager and Cost Consultant, and uses surplus power from the Campus.