Waterside Library

Waterside Library
Londonderry, Derry, Ireland.

The Waterside Library in Derry is located in the old Waterside Workhouse. Workhouses sprang up all over Ireland during the nineteenth century, and several are already listed on this website. Set up with purpose of providing basic accommodation to Ireland’s poorest people, they were essentially prisons where families were separated and forced to work under strict conditions in return for shelter and just enough food to survive.

Children were not exempt from the harsh treatment that was routinely meted out. A middle-aged woman known as “the blue guardian” had responsibility for their welfare and for instilling discipline here at the Waterside Workhouse. At one point, she was called before her superiors as they felt that she was being too lenient on the youngsters that were in her care. Having taken their warning, she tightened up her control and things became much worse for the unfortunate children. One punishment that was regularly used was to place disobedient children in “solitary confinement” by means of a large cupboard on the top floor. The cupboard was away from everyone else so the cries and screams of the children locked inside could not be heard and they could be left there until she decided their punishment had been fulfilled.

One day, two children experienced the ire of the blue guardian. Their cries and pleas were ignored and they were locked in the dreaded cupboard. But on this occasion, they were forgotten. the guardian was called away to be with her ailing sister and it wasn’t until she prepared to return that she remembered what she had done. She rushed to the top of the stairs and opened the door of the cupboard, but she was far too late. The two children had perished in each other’s arms. She was overcome with grief and remorse for what she had done and never recovered recovered from it. The blue guardian is still said to walk the corridors.

When the workhouse was repurposed as a hospital in the 1950s, nurses would sometimes see a ghostly figure during the night. A comforting story, references a kindly spirit who placed an extra blanket on the bed of a patient before silently disappearing through a solid wall. A slightly more alarming experience was shared by a former matron. One night, she was awoken suddenly when all the taps in her apartment came on. The force of the water was so strong that she fled in fear.

Venue Name
The Workhouse, Londonderry, Derry, BT47 6BG, Ireland

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