International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 492–505 | Cite as

Graffiti Revelations and the Changing Meanings of Kilmainham Gaol in (Post)Colonial Ireland

  • Laura McAtackney


Kilmainham Gaol (1796–1924) became the de facto holding center for political prisoners in Ireland by the mid-nineteenth century. Officially closing in 1910, it reopened a number of times for “emergencies” before its final closure after the Irish Civil War (1922–23). After 1924 it lay abandoned until reopening as a heritage attraction in the early 1960s. It was taken into state protection in 1986. Using a range of graffiti assemblages predominantly dating from 1910 onwards this paper will explore the “imperial debris” of contested narratives of meaning, ownership, and identity that the prison walls continue to materialize.


Prison Graffiti War Ireland 



Thanks to the Irish Research Council for founding the project “Following the Fighters?”, which enabled the graffiti-recording fieldwork to be completed at Kilmainham Gaol. The custodians of Kilmainham Gaol, especially Niall Bergin and OPW, for facilitating access and to Dr Katherine O’Donnell for her guidance and support in completing the website Many thanks to my co-editor Russell Palmer for his helpful suggestions and to the anonymous peer reviewers for their questions, comments and prompts.


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Copyright information

© European Union 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyAarhus UniversityHjøbjergDenmark

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