A study of Cork City Gaol, (1824-1878), As a typical example of an Irish county Gaol of the Nineteenth century with reference to the relevance of such county gaols to modern prisons and as an example of heritage research

  • Anne Donaldson

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This study aims to add to the understanding of nineteenth century Irish prison design and discipline, and thus possibly contribute to the debate in relation to the form and function of modern prisons. O'Mahony, (1994), described the history of official punishment as being of itself interesting, and therefore relevant to our understanding of a modern penal system. Most modern, liberal minded penologists argue that the aim of punishment is the protection of society (Rusche & Kircheimer, 1968). This, they argue, maybe said to be a byproduct of general cultural change, including the considerable growth of psychological, psychiatric and sociological knowledge about offenders. Those who hold it, they said, are likely to think of penal treatment as something to be inflicted only after an unemotional and scientific approach to the subject. The cool scientific approaches of the nineteenth century prisons, did little to eliminate crime - crime is still an inherent part of our society and is likely to remain so until the end of time."Every society has created or adopted social values which it wants to defend against aggression" (Rusche & Kircheimer, 1968,foreword).This study of Cork City Gaol is not intended as an exhaustive account of nineteenth century Irish County Prisons. This study concentrates on individual aspects of this particular prison and its place in the Irish County Prison System. In depth research must be left to experts in the individual fields of industrial archaeology, architecture, history, sociology, penology, health,and religion. For example, Buchanan, (1980), argued with reference to industrial archaeology, that the cooperation of multi disciplined experts is required if a comprehensive picture is to develop. Morris and Rottman, (1995), argued that the best contribution of the 'Oxford History of Prison' may well be its demonstration that prisons have an intrinsic history. Irish County Prisons have a history, too. It became obvious that a.baseline study of the Irish System was required as a back drop before specific, and seemingly simple questions about Cork City Gaol could be answered. For example; why build on a hill?; why such high walls?; who were the staff and did their families really live inside and why?; who were the prisoners and why were they in prison?; what was their daily routine inside and why?: Did nineteenth century prison systems eliminate or reduce crime?; was Cork City Gaol exactly as other gaols of its time?; the questions were endless.
    Date of Award1998
    Original languageEnglish

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