- The period after 1814 was one of great poverty among large sections of the Irish people. Many were reduced to a bare existence and depended on what could be produced from a small patch of land which was often used solely for the growing of potatoes. If they couldn't pay the rent to the Landlord they were evicted, which resulted in many families travelling the roads depending on the charity of others.
- In 1838 the Government decided to provide some help for the most destitute. They divided the country into "Unions" and built a workhouse in each union.
- The Celbridge Workhouse (now Colortrend paint factory) opened in 1841 at a cost of £6800 to house 519 inmates. It was the policy of the governors of the Workhouse that a standard of living higher than that enjoyed by the poorest people outside should not be provided.
- Workhouses were places of despair and hopelessness and people entered only as a last resort. The able bodied earned their daily bread by breaking stones and the women through spinning, sewing and knitting.
- On entering the workhouse families were broken up, with men, women and children being referred to their different sections.
- The workhouse was often overcrowded and disease and fever were rampant. Half of the children who were admitted died within a short period of time.
- Close by the workhouse was the fever hospital and the graveyard where the inmates were all buried together in unmarked graves. In Celbridge hundreds of people were buried in the famine graveyard adjoining the workhouse. A single cross was subsequently erected in memory of those who died during those tragic years. The inscription reads: "Pray for the souls of the poor and afflicted whose bodies have been laid in this cemetery since 1846, R.I.P."
- The workhouse functioned much better from 1900 until its closure in 1922 when the Irish Free state was established. The new government was of the opinion that it only served to pauperise people.