Fonds INF 2 - Records of King's County Infirmary

Identity area

Reference code



Records of King's County Infirmary


  • 1837 - 1921 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4 Registers
2 Books
2 Broadsheets (over-sized)

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

King’s County Infirmary was established under King George III’s reign with the passing of the Irish County Infirmaries Act of 1765. This act enabled the creation of infirmaries in thirty Irish counties. In an amending act from 1768, King’s County Infirmary was moved from Philipstown (Daingean) to Tullamore, the new county town. During the redevelopment of Tullamore town by the Earl of Charleville, a new infirmary building was erected in 1788 on Church Street and was further extended in 1812.

The County Infirmaries Act was enacted to provide healthcare to the poor which fulfilled the eighteenth century philanthropic ideals of the landed gentry who supported these institutions through donations and subscriptions. King’s County Infirmary was supported by an income comprising of parliamentary funds, grand jury presentments, governor subscriptions, donations, and patient fees. The infirmary was managed by a Board of Governors who paid subscriptions for their position on the board. Governors had absolute control over the infirmary including staff appointments and patient admissions. To gain access to the infirmary, Governors issued tickets of admission which were most likely given to their employees, tenants, and servants. The governors who supported the hospital were made up of local gentry and landowners such as the Earl of Rosse, Lord Digby and prominent businessowners such as the Goodbody family.

During the War of Independence, King’s County Infirmary came under the jurisdiction of the new Sinn Féin majority council, now renamed Offaly County Council. On the 21st of January 1921, the secretary to Offaly County Council attended a meeting of the board to inform them of the closure of the infirmary. It was to be closed under the Offaly amalgamation scheme whereby the workhouse hospital would become the new County Hospital. The board pleaded with the council to delay the closure in order to settle the affairs of the hospital in relation to critical patients and financial matters. The hospital eventually closed in August 1921 after it was reported by the surgeon and registrar to the board, that the bedding and beds were carried out of the infirmary by unknown persons suspected to be under orders of the county council.

Following its closure, King’s County Infirmary accommodated the civil guards and then housed the county library until 1977. The façade of the original King’s County Infirmary can still be seen on Church Street, Tullamore, which has now been repurposed into apartments.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection contains the records of the King’s County Infirmary. Includes patient records, meeting minutes and annual reports. The patient registers detail patient illnesses, and treatment. The Board of Governors meeting minutes cover a variety of topics from general hospital management, finances, and staff appointments. The minutes also provide important information regarding the closure of the infirmary in 1921, following the establishment of the Offaly Board of Health by the republican-controlled county council during the War of Independence.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

This collection has been divided into three series; Registers of Patients, Minute Books and Annual Reports and are arranged as follows:

INF 2/1: Registers of patients
INF 2/1/1: Extern Patient Book September 1837 - February 1859 (excluding 1839 - 1852).
INF 2/1/2: Register of Patients May 1861
INF 2/1/3: Register of Patients October 1863 - October 1864
INF 2/1/4: Register of Patients June 1867 - September 1868

INF 2/2: Minute Books
INF 2/2/1: August 1888 - June 1919 (excluding April - December 1916).
INF 2/2/2: June 1919 - August 1921

INF 2/3: Annual Reports
INF 2/3/1: 5 May 1896 - 6 January 1897 (1 page).
INF 2/3/2: 5 January 1897 - 6 January 1898 (1 page).

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

By appointment only. Contact Offaly Archives at [email protected]

Conditions governing reproduction

May be reproduced in accordance with provisions of the Copyright and Related Rights Act (2000). No reproduction online, in print or broadcast without express permission of copyright holder.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Michael Murphy, Anne Coughlan and Gráinne Doran, 'Grand Jury to Áras An Chontae', (Jetprint: Tullamore, 2003).

Allied materials area

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Related units of description

Publication note

John Wright, ‘Offaly One Hundred Years Ago - a reprint of King's County Directory 1890’, (Tullamore, 1989).

Publication note

Michael Byrne, ‘A Walk through Tullamore’, (Tullamore, 1980).

Publication note

Michael Murphy, Anne Coughlan and Gráinne Doran, 'Grand Jury to Áras An Chontae', (Tullamore, 2003).

Publication note

Grace Pierce, 'Patronage and Health Care in Eighteenth-Century Irish County Infirmaries', Irish Historical Studies, vol. 41, no. 159, (2017).

Publication note

Susan Mullaney, 'A Means of Restoring the Health and Preserving the Lives of His Majesty's Subjects: Ireland's 18th-Century National Hospital System', Canadian Bulletin of Medical History vol. 29, no. 2, (2012).

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised October 2021, Aisling Irwin




Michael Murphy, Anne Coughlan and Gráinne Doran, 'Grand Jury to Áras An Chontae', (Jetprint: Tullamore, 2003).

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