Sligo Gaol is located near the council offices at Riverside, Sligo. I recently went on a tour of the gaol as part of the Open Door project organised by Sligo County Council. Tim Carey gave a talk about the history of the gaol to accompany the tour.
|Outside of cells|
The gaol opened in 1823. It was the first formal prison in the British Isles; before this prisoners were kept ad-hoc in houses and public buildings. The gaol was purpose built for incarceration. This reformed way of imprisonment became a widely used model. It had a big influence on how prison's are run in the present day.
The prison was laid out in a semi-circular configuration of cells, with the governers house at the centre. Prisoners worked for 2 hours each a day on the treadmill. The treadmill was used to pump water from the Garavogue River into the prison for use.
|Sligo Gaol as was|
|The Governors House|
The prison contained kitchens, washing facilities and a hospital. Prisoners were fed and educated during their time inside.
Sligo Gaol closed in 1956 because it became too old and out of date to run as a prison. No other gaol was built in Sligo. Since closure half of the site of the gaol has been redeveloped to house Sligo County Council and the Fire Brigade. The rest of the prison remains intact, but generally closed up to the public. It was great to get the opportunity to visit the prison and to take photos. I hope to go back really soon.