Mountjoy Prison in Dublin was opened in 1850, and like many prisons of the time was built in line with the design of the so-called ‘model’ prisons of Pentonville in London and Port Arthur in Tasmania. Mountjoy was used in the immediate aftermath of the 1916 Rising with many prisoners initially held there before their release or removal to military barracks prior to their transfer to Britain. Mountjoy was used for Irish political prisoners from late summer 1917 and these were mainly men who had been arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act for illegal drilling. Key prisoners held in Mountjoy at the time included the Brennan brothers, Austin Stack and Thomas Ashe. In September 1917 38 members of the Irish Volunteers began a hunger strike at Mountjoy in protest at the harsh conditions and demanded prisoner of war status. In line with common practice at the time prisoners were force fed, and on 25 September Thomas Ashe died from injuries sustained during force feeding at the Mater Hospital. In the wake of Ashe’s death conditions were improved for political prisoners. Mountjoy held political prisoners through the War of Independence and the Civil War. Mountjoy remains in use and is the largest Dublin prison holding 520 inmates.
Related books: Dundalk & Mountjoy prisons 1917?>