The architect George Wilkinson designed all of the workhouses in Ireland. Enniskillen workhouse was built on a site at Cornagrade on the banks of the River Erne, in close proximity to the island town. It was built to accommodate 1000 inmates. Today, only the entrance block at the rear of the former Erne Hospital remains. The workhouse opened on 1st December 1845 with 69 paupers admitted. At the height of the famine in May 1847 there were 1433 inmates in the workhouse, 156 inmates died in that month alone. To save money part of the workhouse grounds were set aside as a burial ground. A small stone memorial marks this site directly in front of the former Erne Hospital.
Typhoid and typhus were rife and many people were dying. To alleviate the expense of burying paupers slip coffins were used. The strip of land for the Paupers Graveyard in Cornagrade was provided by the Earl of Enniskillen in February 1847 and was fully operational by May of that year.
From 1845-1852 a total of 2040 people died in the workhouse. The majority of whom were buried in the paupers graveyard in Cornagrade, prior to this inmates were buried in the workhouse grounds. The paupers’ graveyard continued to be used until 1948. The 1901 census reports 203 inmates in the workhouse in Enniskillen.