This abandoned children’s home is nestled among the trees and backing onto a picturesque river. Before it was turned into a children’s home, it had quite a rich history. It was owned by a local family who built their home on the land. The man of the family was well-known in the area and had worked as a Crown Solicitor in Co. Antrim.
They were said to be extremely generous. Each year, the family would hold an annual fete for the local workhouse children at their residence. During the fete, the children would be shown around the land and around the gardens where they would have their choice of tea, currant cakes and buns. Afterwards, the children were allowed to play games and have races against one another before returning to the workhouse for 6PM.
In 1892, the home owner passed away and left behind some money to the Tyrone Protestant Orphan Society as well as some money for the Presbyterian Orphan Society, located in Belfast. Then in 1918, his wife passed away. The home was then purchased by the High Sheriff of the town who had also had the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during World War I. The High Sheriff and his family had lived in a home on the grounds of the children’s home and he had also been in charge of food distribution for Northern Ireland in the 1940s.
Then in 1948, the home and land were sold and it was transformed into a children’s home which was run by the Health and Social Care Trust. Children who were unwanted or could not be cared for would live here until a suitable home be found or until they could return home. In addition to offering adoption and fostering services, it also provided a place to stay for children who were known to child protection, whether through their own behaviour or through behaviour of their parents.
The children’s home boasted of a home environment consisting of 16 bedrooms as well as a kitchen and office spaces. At one point in time, it also offered a kindergarten and would provide care for children up to 17-years-old. The children’s home aimed to meet the individual needs of the children in its care though the use of social work values as well as working alongside parents, carers and other professionals.
In June of 1956, a fire was reported at the children’s home. At the time, ten children were residing in the home and needed to be quickly ushered out by the matron. The fire had burned a large hole in the floor of the matron’s sitting room and burned right through to the kitchen ceiling directly below. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries or serious damage to the building.
In 2005, the children’s home closed and moved premises to Enniskillen. The new children’s home is state of the art and cost a hefty £950,000. When we visited the derelict children’s home, much of the outside was overgrown and almost all of the windows had been boarded up, letting very little light in. Downstairs, there was a kitchen and a relatively large room with two blackboards, most likely some kind of classroom or even a study room for the residents.
Upstairs in the bedrooms, we found that a number of artefacts were left behind, including children’s workbooks, bibles and even some. We were able to find out that the children who lived at this children’s home would attend the local school and would be taken there by bus which had the name of the children’s home emblazoned on the side. As one former resident said: “I remember feeling so ashamed at getting out of the van, because I thought the stigma was so great, and you know, everybody will now know that I’m a bad person because of it.”
While children’s homes within Ireland were rife with abuse which has been widely uncovered in numerous inquiries, all reports we have found on this specific children’s home are positive.
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Lovely story an pictures, would it be possible to get the location?
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