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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison.jpg
Location Phibsboro, Dublin
Status Operational
Security class Medium security
Capacity 540
Opened 1850
Managed by Irish Prison Service
Governor Mr. John Lonergan

Mountjoy Prison (Irish: Príosún Mhuinseo), founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a closed, medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin, Ireland.

The current prison governor is John Lonergan. A former governor was Charles Arthur Munro, brother of the Edwardian satirist Saki [1]



It was designed by military engineer Joshua Jebb and opened in 1850. Mountjoy was originally intended as the first stop for men sentenced to transportation, where they would spend a period in separate confinement and then be transferred to Spike Island before being transported to Van Diemen's Land.

Some Irish leaders during the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War were held there. Kevin Barry was among those executed at the prison. On May 14 1921, an IRA team led by Paddy Daly and Emmet Dalton mounted an attempt to rescue Sean McEoin from the prison. They used a captured armoured car to gain access to Mountjoy, but were discovered and had to shoot their way out.

The Fenian poet, author of the popular song "Rising of the Moon", John Keegan Leo Casey was imprisoned here during the 1860s; subsequently in the 20th century playwright and IRA activist Brendan Behan was also gaoled within.

On 31 October 1973, it was the scene of a spectacular escape by helicopter by three Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners, including Seamus Twomey and J.B O'Hagan.[2]

Sanitation and crowding

The prison was built with in-cell sanitation but this was removed in 1939 at the instigation of a civil servant who deemed that 'prisoners were using too much water'. Inmates have to slop out, using chamber pots, empty milk cartons and other receptacles in lieu of proper sanitation.

The Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention has stated that prisoners in Mountjoy are existing in most inhumane, degrading and overcrowded conditions, and that many have to sleep on the floor in filthy conditions due to overcrowding. He recommended that it be closed and demolished. In 2006 the Inspector-General described the attitude of the then Progressive Democrat Minister for Justice Michael McDowell towards reform as "frightening and fascist"[3].

In August 2006, as a result of severe overcrowding, prisoner Gary Douche was murdered in a packed holding cell. This prompted the Minister of Justice to put a cap on the capacity of the prison at 520.


A 60-hectare site has been acquired for €30 million at Thornton Hall, North County Dublin, on which a replacement for Mountjoy is to be constructed. The new facility will accommodate 1,200 convicts. The site will include court facilities, video-conference links, medical and therapeutic facilities [4]


Carey, Tim : Mountjoy - The Storey of a Prison :The Collins Press : 2000 : ISBN 1898256896

See also


  1. ^ Introduction p24 of The Unbearable Saki by Sandie Byrne, Oxford University Press, 2007
  2. ^ The Helicopter Prison
  3. ^ "Fourth Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention, 2004-05". Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform. 2006-08-24.  
  4. ^ National Infrastructure Summit, May 2006

External links

Coordinates: 53°21′42.3″N 6°16′2.8″W / 53.36175°N 6.267444°W / 53.36175; -6.267444

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