PMA for

Education building viewed from fence


This resource draws upon the unique collection of recordings, short films and photographs that make up the Prisons Memory Archive.

It has been designed to break down the vast archive, which features recordings of more than 120 participants, into key themes and topics, and to stimulate learning, engagement and discussion.
There are nine lessons: each one focuses on a specific location, topic or theme, including Internment, Armagh Gaol, the H-Blocks and the Role of the Prisons in the Peace Process. The resources include a broad range of perspectives, which are often very different – not only republican and loyalist prisoners, but also prison staff, visitors, educators, artists, and more.
Using the resources, students should gain a well-rounded understanding of the significance of the prisons in our history, the key events that happened there, their relevance to the broader conflict, and the importance of oral history in preserving memory.
Although the lessons will be of particular value for those studying History, the resource should also be relevant to students from a wide range of disciplines including Politics and Journalism. It ties in with the CCEA GCSE History curriculum, but it has been designed to be relevant across secondary and third level education, and for international students.
An accompanying Teachers’ Guide has been developed by the PMA team at Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with Into Film.

Internment – the arrest and detention of people without trial – began in the early hours of 9 August 1971, in a British Army operation termed ‘Operation Demetrius’.

Following the introduction of internment in August 1971, Long Kesh – a disused World War 2 airfield near Lisburn, south of Belfast – was used as an internment camp. The camp was divided into compounds (also known as ‘cages’)…

The H-Blocks were constructed adjacent to the compounds/cages of Long Kesh, on the site of a disused military airfield near Lisburn, south of Belfast, and opened in 1976.

Armagh Gaol, first constructed in the 1780s and much extended in the 1840s, is a typical Victorianprison in form, with a long austere frontage facing The Mall and, to the rear, two wings (‘A’ and ‘B’)radiating from a central corridor block.

The use of hunger strike as a form of protest has a long tradition in British and Irish prisons. For example, the Lord Mayor of Cork,Terence MacSwiney, died whilst on hunger strike in Brixton Prison in 1920

Many types of education were available to prisoners in Armagh Gaol and the Maze and Long Kesh Prison, including secondary education and vocational training

Art and craft classes were held at the Maze and Long Kesh Prison as part of educational programmes, some by the prison authorities and some by the prisoners themselves.

The impact of time ‘inside’ is felt far beyond prison walls.In fact, time in prison during the conflict had an enormous impact on ‘outside’ life, in terms of its effects on prison officers, the families of prisoners….

During its lifetime, the Maze and Long Kesh Prison was emblematic of the political conflict colloquially known as ‘the Troubles’. Yet, paradoxically, the prison also played a role in the negotiation of peace.

Download our teacher's notes