The Prisons Memory Archive (PMA) is a collection of filmed walk-and-talk recordings with those who had a connection with Armagh Gaol and Maze and Long Kesh during the conflict known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland / the North of Ireland.
In 2006 and 2007, the filmmakers invited an inclusive range of people – loyalist and republican former prisoners and internees, prison officers and governors, visitors, educators, journalists, probation officers, welfare workers, and chaplains – to revisit the prison sites and recount their experiences there. The result is a rich, multi-narrative collection that preserves personal memories of these historical sites from different viewpoints.
In the recordings, participants recall numerous aspects of the prisons during the conflict. Themes include the experience of internment; everyday life for prisoners and prison officers; the culture of different organisations in the prisons; education, art and crafts; and the architecture and facilities of the prisons as they changed over time. Many participants offered deeply personal recollections of some of the most challenging and momentous events in recent history.
Thanks to a partnership between the Public Record Office (PRONI) and Queen’s University Belfast, supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the PMA collection is now preserved and available to the public. Full recordings, catalogued in detail, can be viewed at PRONI. The PMA website features numerous extracts, education resources, short- and feature-length documentary films, interactive maps of the prison sites and background to the prisons during the conflict.

The PMA Team

Led by the PMA Director, Cahal McLaughlin, many people have worked on the PMA over the years. Small film crews set up at each prison site to record participants’ stories in 2006 and 2007. In the years since, researchers, archivists, film editors and outreach staff have been working to catalogue, document and curate the archive for future generations.

Former Emergency Control Room TV screens still

Ethical Framework

The PMA’s ethical framework ensured that a wide range of participants felt comfortable to have their stories recorded. After the recordings were made, participants have retained co-ownership of their contributions.

Cell window overlooking blooming flowers.

Participant Testimonials

During the lockdown in summer 2020, the PMA held a special online event to celebrate the transfer of the collection to PRONI and the launch of the new project website. During the event, participants reflected on why they wanted to get involved in the PMA, and their memories of recording at the prison sites

A visual of all of the participants for the PMA.

PMA Bibliography

Journal articles, reviews, presentations, news stories and podcasts relating specifically to the PMA

Aguiar, L.


What if We Had Been the Heroes of the Maze and Long Kesh? Collaborative filmmaking in Northern Ireland’

In Liddy, Susan. Women in Irish Film: Stories and Storytellers (Cork University Press).

Aguiar, L.


More Than ‘Collaborative Rubber Stamps’: Cross-Community Storytelling in Transitional Northern Ireland

In IAFOR Journal of Media, Communication and Film Issue 4

Aguiar, L.


We Were There: The Women of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison: Collaborative Filmmaking in Transitional Northern Ireland

PhD Thesis. Queen’s University Belfast

Aguiar, L.


Back to Those Walls: The Women’s Memory of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison in Northern Ireland

Journal of Memory Studies. Issue 8.2.

Aguiar, L.


Book review: Recording Memories from Political Violence: A film-maker’s journey

Crime Media Culture Journal. No.8, pp. 374-376.

Concordia Irish Studies Podcast


Cahal McLaughlin on The Prisons Memory Archive

Dennis, L.


Visual Voices of the Prisons Memory Archive’. Viewfinder 101, November 2015

Dennis, L.


'Reflections on Trauma in the Prisons Memory Archive: How Information Literacy, Human Experience and Place are Impacted by Conflict' in Melania Gallego (ed.)

Trauma and Identity in Contemporary Irish Culture. Peter Lang.

Leebody, C.


Students get 'reel' education into life behind bars during Northern Ireland Troubles’. Belfast Telegraph, 11 February 2020

Keane, K.


Stories from the Cells: The Role of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison in Peace Time Northern Ireland In: F. McCann (ed.), The Carceral Network in Ireland: History, Agency and Resistance. Palgrave McMillan.

Mairs Dyer, J.


Unseen Women: Stories from Armagh Gaol. Collaborative post-conflict documentary

Journal of Media Practice: Screenworks. Vol 4: 5

Mairs Dyer, J.


'Unseen Women: Stories from Armagh Gaol. Exhibiting contrasting memories of a contested space.’

In: Kidd, J., Cairns, S., Drago, A., Ryall A. and Stearn, M. (eds.) Challenging History in the Museum.​

McCafferty, C.


Presentation: 'Future Tuesdays presents Prisons Memory Archive'. Belfast: Future Screens.

McLaughlin, C., Mairs-Dyer, J. and McCafferty, C. (eds.).


The Prisons Memory Archive: A Case Study in Filmed Memory of Conflict. Wilmington, VA: Vernon Press.

McLaughlin, C.


Inside stories, memories from the Maze and Long Kesh Prison’, Journal of Media Practice Volume 7 Number 2.

doi: 10.1386/jmpr.7.2.123/1

McLaughlin, C.


Recording Memories from Political Conflict: a filmmaker’s journey.

Intellect: Bristol.

McLaughlin, C.


Who Tells What to Whom and How: The Prisons Memory Archive. p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e , 1 (1).

McLaughlin, C.


‘Stories from Inside: The Prisons Memory Archive’ in Andres, C., and McGuire, M., (eds) Post Conflict Literature: Human Rights, Peace, Justice.

Routledge: London.

McLaughlin, C.


‘The Prisons Memory Archive: Representing the Troubles,’

The Irish Times, 1 March 2016.

McLaughlin, C.


‘The role of oral history in societies emerging from conflict.’ NI Assembly Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series.

McLaughlin, C.


‘Cahal McLaughlin on the role of the Prisons Memory Archive in Northern Ireland.’ Faculty of Law, University of Oxford: Atrocity's Archives: the Role of Archives in Transitional Justice

McLaughlin, C.


‘Memory, place and gender: Armagh Stories: Voices from the Gaol. Journal of Memory Studies.

Murphy, M.


‘Telling stories from The Troubles - the Prisons Memory Archive’, Irish Central, 9 October 2018:

Side, K. and McLaughlin, C.


Many of Those Stories Don't Sit Easily Next to Each Other": Stories about Conflict, Trauma, and Injustice. An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Dr. Cahal McLaughlin

The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 57-81

McMinn, K.


Visual Voices of the Prisons Memory Archive: Preservation, Access and Engagement; End of Project Evaluation.

Further Readings


Including oral history projects locally and internationally, organisations, initiatives and projects in the wider fields of conflict transformation, transitional justice, trauma and multimedia storytelling, and links to organisations whose members have taken part in the PMA project.

Accounts of the Conflict

An archive of personal accounts of the conflict

Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research

Atrocity’s Archives

Cantos Cautivos

Conflict Archive on the Internet

Coiste Na nIarchimí

Conflictorium, India


Oral History Archive


A multimedia workshop education programme exploring the underlying causes of conflict

Guantanamo Public Memory Project

Healing Through Remembering

An organisation dealing with the legacy of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland


Research network for interactive and immersive documentaries


Irish Republican Socialist Party

Northern Visions

Time to Think

Open University Journeys in British and Irish prisons during the years of conflict 1972-2000

Oral History Network Ireland

Oral History Society UK


Center for Digital Storytelling


A Showcase and Workshop for New Public Radio

Warders' Stories:

A prison officers' oral history project currently in development. Contact [email protected]

Witness to Guantanamo

In-depth interviews with former detainees and other voices of Guantanamo

Selected Filmography

Fiction Films
Ireland and UK


Les Blair 2001


Steve McQueen 2008

Hush a Bye Baby​

Margo Harkin 1990

In the Name of the Father

Jim Sheridan 1993


Stephen Burke, 2017

Silent Grace

Maeve Murphy 2005

Some Mother’s Son

Terry George 1996

The Visit

Orla Walsh 1992

Non-Fiction Films
Ireland and UK

And Then There Was Silence...

The Cost of the Troubles Study 2000

A Prisoner’s Journey

Cahal McLaughlin 2000

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey

Leila Doolan 2011

Daughters of the Troubles

Marcia Rock 1996


WAVE 2012

Mother Ireland

Anne Crilly 1988

The Far Side of Revenge

Margo Harkin 2012

The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners

Melissa Thompson – no date

Unheard Voices

Cahal McLaughlin 2010

Voices from the Grave

Kate O’Callaghan 2010

We carried your Secrets

Declan Keeney 2009


The Invisible War

Kirby Dick 2012

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter

Connie Field 1980


Connie Field 1980

Nostalgia de la Luz

Patricio Guzman 2010

Our Feelings Took the Pictures: Open Shutters Iraq ​

Maysoon Pachachi 2009​

Prohibido Recordar

Josua Martinez and Txaber Larreteagi 2010

Return to the Land of Wonders

Maysoon Pachachi 2003

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

Rithy Panh 2003


Claude Lanzmann 1985

We Never Give Up I and II

Cahal McLaughlin 2002 and 2012