MacDonagh Junction is the site of the former Kilkenny Union Workhouse and the site of the discovery of 975 human remains in 2005 which were undocumented and remain without names.

These people date from 1845 and represent a cross section of Kilkenny inhabitants that befell starvation and disease as a consequence of the Great Famine. As the local graveyards filled the decision was taken to bury them within the grounds of the workhouse. This burial ground was then covered over by a thick layer of soil and later used as the workhouse garden.

In 2005 the remains were discovered whilst the site was being prepared for the development of the Centre and they were removed under expert supervision and brought to the National Museum of Ireland. They were examined in detail by archaeologists from around the world and this research offered never seen before insights into the living conditions and cause of death for famine population in Ireland. This has been described as the most significant discovery in the World relating to the Irish Famine. They were returned to us in 2010 and rest in the Kilkenny Famine Memorial Garden at MacDonagh Junction.

In early November 2017 we will launch the Kilkenny Famine experience, a free self-guided audio visual tour that will describe the human story of the Kilkenny famine inmates around the buildings of the former famine Workhouse (now Workhouse Square, MacDonagh Junction). As part of this project we hope to collect 975 fingerprint images from local groups and schools to represent and connect the people of present day Kilkenny to the crypt that houses the human remains at the Famine Memorial Garden at MacDonagh Junction.

The fingerprint images will not have any recording of the participant’s names so there is no data or privacy release required in law. The device will simply record the scan image as a jpeg file which will be added to the metalwork of proposed banding which will be installed to adorn the crypt and tour signage. Of course, the participants will be also be invited to register their participation in our record book but this information will simply record who submitted their fingerprints with no connection to the image file. We would like to invite customers to participate in the project on the following dates:


Sunday 9th July at 3pm

Saturday 15th July at 3pm

Sunday 23rd July at 3pm