Dunmanway Union Workhouse was built between 1839 and 1941 by the Board of Guardians of the Dunmanway Poor Law Union. It was built on a 6 acre site and provided relief for the destitute of the area. It was designed originally to house 400 inmates, but during the Famine in recorded 866 inmates during 1847, with a further 129 inmates in the Fever Hospital this
was a separate building adjacent to the workhouse. During the famine a lot of deaths took place in the workhouse and they were buried in mass graves in Fanlobbus graveyard nearby.
These graves are now marked by a large wooden cross erected in 1994 by Macra na Feirme. Life in the Workhouse was regimental and the diet of the inmates was poor. All workhouses at the time had a schoolroom and other various departments, such as shoemaking, flour milling, weaving etc. I suppose the children fared best as they were afforded a trade. Staff consisted of a Master, Matron. School Mistress, Doctor, RC and C of I Chaplain. They were overseen by the local Board of guardians.
During the war of in dependence a Company of Essex Regiment occupied the building. After the Essex Regiment came the Auxiliaries and then the Black & Tans. In 1920, the day after Kilmichael Ambush the O.C. Major de Haviland ordered all civilians to vacate the building. Some of the inmates were transferred to the nearby Fever Hospital and others were transferred to the Co Home in Clonakilty. In 1922 the original Workhouse was burned to the ground by the IRA. The Fever Hospital and the lodge survived.
In 1932 the present day hospital was built on the ruins of the workhouse. The fever hospital was then demolished. The hospital itself is a two storey spacious building designed by architect J J O’Crowley. The contractor was Daniel Desmond of Bandon. The building consisted of a medical, surgical and a maternity ward. The male wards were on the ground floor, and the female wards were on the first floor. It was served by electricity, and served an area from Gougane Barra to Macroom, and embraced the three dispensary Districts of Dunmanway, Ballineen and Coolmountain.
In the 1950s the hospital was renamed St Anthony’s Hospital. The building was extended in 2008 to accommodate another 23 patients, and to accommodate the Day Care Centre. Today it is known as Dunmanway Community Hospital. The remnants of the Famine Chapel which survived the fire have recently been refurbished and some artefacts of the famine period are on display there. The Community Dental Service and a new communal meeting room are located there. The room is known as the Famine Memorial Chapel meeting room.