Ancestry UK

Ragged Boys' Home, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A Ragged Boys' Home was founded in 1852 at Grand Canal Street, Dublin. It was the first of a number of homes run by Ellen Smyly, in association with the Irish Church Mission.

The establishment could accommodate up to 86 homeless boys, generally aged 10 to 12 at their date of entry, and was nearly always full. The boys were trained as servants, or were apprenticed to tradesmen. On taking up situations, the boys could still live in the Home in rooms set apart for the purpose and some were then able to pay for their lodging. The boys attended the Ragged Day Schools in Townsend Street, also administered by the Irish Church Mission. Some learned skills such as carpentry and glazing, and could carry out repairs when necessary. The Home had a boys' band. An evening science and art class was provided for old boys and others, at which the average attendance was 20. By the 1880s, local ladies were teaching the boys wood-carving, which generated a small income for the home. A few of the boys were sent to begin new lives in Canada.

The Grand Canal Street building no longer survives.


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  • Records for Smyly's homes (including emigration records) are physically held at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. However, access is restricted to staff of the Smyly Trust to whom initial enquiries should be directed at 15 Rock Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland (+353 1 283 2071,


  • Smyly, Vivienne The Early History of Mrs Smyly's Homes and Schools (c.1976, privately published)