I’ve accidentally come across a link to this site several times in the past couple of days. So I clicked on to it this evening. It’s a collection of 175 filmed walk-and-talk interviews back inside Armagh Gaol and Long Kesh/The Maze, with prison staff, prisoners, teachers, visitors, and chaplains, contributing to the archive. Most participants decided where to go and what to talk about, as the materiality of the space, architecture and furniture stimulated their memories. Each interview runs for about 30 mins so I haven’t had time to listen to them all.
I started off with Long Kesh as it was the centre of the 1981 Hunger Strike, bearing in mind that Bobby Sands started his fast on 1st March 35 years ago.
Fr Oliver Crilly, cousin to Tom McElwee, another hungerstriker, made one very interesting point. Tom was convinced that the very fact of his being on hungerstrike acted as a deterrent to the violence and brutality Republican prisoners had long been subjected to at the hands of the prison guards and authorities.
Well worth listening to is Michael Moloney, Australian Art Teacher, who died in 2013, and his story of procuring 3 short lengths of barbed wire for a prisoner’s sculpture.
An insight into the loyalist paramilitary mindset in prison can be gleaned from the interview by Howard Giffen & Sally Cunningham. For the first few minutes Howard remains inarticulate until joined by Sally who starts asking him questions. His answers show what interests him and the type of man he is. Note his reaction to the Prison Hospital.
In sharp contrast to Howard, is Eddie McGarrigle, the only disabled prisoner in Long Kesh/The Maze. Eddie has been in a wheelchair since he was gunned down as a 17-year-old in 1983. When a woman told him a man had sexually abused her daughter, Eddie started asking questions about the perpetrator. An INLA member warned the man, who stole an IRA gun and shot McGarrigle. INLA claimed responsibility but subsequently issued a public apology to Mr McGarrigle. He says the trigger was pulled by the paedophile after he began asking questions about him.A key figure within the IRSP, Eddie is today convinced that non-violence is the only way forward for Northern Ireland.
Let’s hear what you think about these interviews and others on the site.