Stories from the Cells: The Role of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison in Peace Time Northern Ireland

  • Kate KeaneEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


In 2007, a small filmmaking team visited what was left of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison. Demolition had already begun in earnest, with plans well advanced for the redevelopment of the site to include a large multi-functional sports stadium, while some republican groups called for the preservation of parts of the site. One H-Block had been kept in full working order up until 2003, in case the ceasefires did not hold. The filmmaking team invited people who had previously spent time there to revisit the site, and have their memories recorded, using the site and the buildings as a stimulus for memory. Stories were collected from a wide range of perspectives, including ex-prisoners from both republican and loyalist groups, prison staff, teachers, artists, family members, chaplains, lawyers, and doctors. These became part of what is now the Prisons Memory Archive, ‘a collection of 175 filmed walk-and-talk recordings with those who had a connection with Armagh Gaol and the Maze and Long Kesh Prison during the conflict in and about Northern Ireland’. The archive also includes photographs and site footage of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison, and Armagh Gaol.

The aim of this chapter is to explore how the Maze and Long Kesh Prison site, and oral history projects such as the Prisons Memory Archive (PMA), can help to demonstrate the multi-layered meanings of contentious history in Northern Ireland, and act as a focal point or stimulus for greater understanding of a difficult past.


Prison sites Prisons Memory Archive Oral history projects History 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prisons Memory ArchiveQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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