Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

Crumlin Road Gaol is a prison located on Crumlin Road, Belfast, North Ireland. This prison was previously known as HMP Belfast. It’s the only prison remaining since Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 until she died in 1901. This prison was built to replace County Gaol in Carrickfergus in North Ireland.

Crumlin Road Gaol was the first prison built in Ireland with partitions to separate the prisoners and ensure no communication between them. Inmates were men, women, and children imprisoned mostly for stealing food and clothing from wealthy families. This prison did not have an execution chamber; therefore, executions were done openly before the public. Later, an execution chamber was built inside the prison, and hangings were now done privately until 1961, when they were concluded. The bodies would later be buried in the unsacred ground next to the prison hospital.

Most prisoners attempted to escape, and some even succeeded. In 1991, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary organization that was after ending the British rule in Northern Ireland, bombed the prison. Prisoners and guards were injured, and some were killed. In 1996, Crumlin Road Gaol shut down and remained inactive. In 2010 the government of North Ireland announced extensive renovation processes on the building. In 2012, the prison was opened to the public host conferences, concerts and also became a tourist attraction.

The Crumlin Road Gaol is famous for the underground tunnel that connected the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse. The prisoners walked in chains, whether an adult or a child. Visitors get to see and sit on the governor’s chair, who in the old days was an influential person. One gets to see the names of all those who prisoners hung in the chambers. Their names and dates of their execution are visually presented on the walls for visitors to see. In some of the prisoners’ rooms, there is a presentation of the rooms, a bed, seat, and small table. The prison houses some art collections strategically placed inside the building. Some of the art are historical pictures of prominent people and guards working in prison.

Crumlin Road Gaol has a rich architectural and historical significance that the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency gave it a grade A listed structure. People whore are enthusiastic about history find this historical site to behold. The most frequenting visitors are the locals, especially with the ongoing Convid19 pandemic; most countries are on lockdown.

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