The Paupers’ Graveyard marks the spot where Wexford’s poor and destitute were laid to rest in mass graves. During the the famine era, when poverty became widespread, many families were forced to enter Wexford’s Workhouse, where they had to live under incredibly harsh conditions. Unfortunately, many of these men, women and children would only get to leave the workhouse if they were being carted off to an unmarked grave in the Paupers’ Graveyard.
According to census figures, the population of County Wexford dropped from 202,033 in 1841 to 180,158 in 1851. Although the county managed to escape the worst of the effects of the Great Famine, many working class families suffered as a result of a prolonged agricultural depression, which left many men and women without work. As the 1840s progressed, the number of occupants in Wexford’s Workhouse began to swell as more and more people sought refuge.
In recent times, the cemetery was cleaned up and restored, as it had been lying in a terrible condition for a number of years. Nowadays, the site has benches, newly-planted flowers and a memorial headstone. The inscription on the headstone reads as follows:
In this place, known only to God, lie the bodies of Wexford’s poor, deprived, handicapped and destitute. Remember them.
Throughout the graveyard, you will notice a number of large stones, which were placed there as markers by family members who wanted to pinpoint the resting place of their loved ones. To the casual observer, these blocks can seem insignificant and randomly-placed.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little information about this particular cemetery, as many of the poor souls that were buried here did not receive as much as a written obituary.
The entrance to the site is located on Coolcott’s Lane in Wexford Town. Although parking is not available, there is a small car park outside of Scoil Mhuire, which is just down the road.