Specially-commissioned essays on the PMA project, oral history, public records, and the prisons.

The following essays outline the approach of the PMA, the significance of oral history in dealing with the conflict and its legacy, and the history of the prison sites through museum collections and public records.

“These archives form a part of our wider community memory.”

Records of the Prisons at PRONI

Graham Jackson

This illustrated essay explores the records relating to prisons that are held at the Public Record Office (PRONI) in Belfast.
“In 1847, the gaol was once again denounced by the inspectors, who described it as ‘the most miserable of all the ones visited that year’…”

A Brief History of Armagh Gaol

Sean Barden

Sean Barden outlines the turbulent history of Armagh Gaol, from its initial construction in the late 1700s through to its eventual closure in 1986.
“Most participants took the initiative in deciding where to go and what to talk about, as the materiality of the spaces stimulated their memories.”

A Documentary Archive of Prison Experience: Introduction to the PMA

Cahal McLaughlin

This essay introduces the PMA and its ethical framework. Cahal McLaughlin considers some of the challenges faced while recording in the prisons and in the editing room after.
“Inside Stories investigates the effect of place upon memory…”

Inside Stories: Memories from the Maze and Long Kesh

Louise Purbrick

This essay, published for the exhibition of Inside Stories (the first PMA film) at Catalyst Arts in 2005, considers the multiple narratives in the film and the questions they raise.
“Every minute of every recording in the PMA collection has been accounted for.”

Building the Archive: ‘Behind the Scenes’ of the PMA

Conor McCafferty

This essay describes the painstaking work that has gone into preserving the PMA collection, and making it accessible to the public.
“We frequently found that there were no easy answers or single solutions…”

Oral History and Dealing with the Past

Claire Hackett

In this essay, Claire Hackett emphasises the value of grassroots oral history initiatives in dealing with the conflict, and the importance of “ethical practice” in this context.