Mountjoy Prison (Irish: Príosún Mhuinseo), founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a closed, medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin.

The current prison governor is Mr. Edward Whelan.


Mountjoy was designed by the British military engineering officer, Captain Joshua Jebb, Royal Engineers and opened in 1850, based on the design of London's Pentonville Prison also designed by Jebb. Originally intended as the first stop for men sentenced to transportation, they would spend a period in separate confinement before being transferred to Spike Island and transported from there to Van Diemen's Land.

A total of 46 prisoners (including one woman, Annie Walsh) were executed within the walls of the prison, prior to the abolition of capital punishment. Executions were done by hanging, after which the bodies of the dead were taken down from the gallows and buried within the prison grounds in unmarked graves. The list of prisoners executed at Mountjoy Prison includes:

Kevin Barry
Patrick Moran
Frank Flood
Thomas Whelan
Thomas Traynor
Patrick Doyle
Thomas Bryan
Bernard Ryan
Edmond Foley
Patrick Maher.

Annie Walsh from Limerick, who was found guilty of murdering her husband was the only woman to be hanged by the Irish Free State. She was executed in Mountjoy prison on 5 August 1925.

The final execution in the Republic of Ireland, that of Michael Manning, took place in Mountjoy Prison on 20 April 1954.

Some Irish leaders involved with the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War were held there. On May 14, 1921, an IRA team led by Paddy Daly and Emmet Dalton mounted an attempt to rescue Sean McEoin from the prison. They used a captured armoured car to gain access to Mountjoy, but were discovered and had to shoot their way out.

The Fenian poet, author of the popular song "Rising of the Moon", John Keegan 'Leo' Casey was imprisoned here during the 1860s; subsequently in the 20th century playwright and IRA activist Brendan Behan was also gaoled within.

On 31 October 1973, it was the scene of a spectacular escape by helicopter by three Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners, including Seamus Twomey and J.B O'Hagan.

Sanitation and overcrowding:

The prison was built with in-cell sanitation but this was removed in 1939 at the instigation of a civil servant who deemed that 'prisoners were using too much water'. Inmates have to slop out, using chamber pots, empty milk cartons and other receptacles in lieu of proper sanitation.

The Inspector-General of Prisons and Places of Detention has stated that prisoners in Mountjoy are existing in most inhumane, degrading and overcrowded conditions, and that many have to sleep on the floor in filthy conditions due to overcrowding. He recommended that it be closed and demolished. In 2006 the Inspector-General described the attitude of the then Progressive Democrat Minister for Justice Michael McDowell towards reform as "frightening and fascist".

In August 2006 prisoners who were normally separated from the rest of the population for safety were mixed together for a night with mentally ill inmate Stephen Egan. Prisoner Gary Douche was killed by Egan who was found not guilty of murder due to a lack of responsibility. This prompted the Minister of Justice to seek a limit of 520 inmates on the capacity of the prison.

Dóchas Centre:

Mountjoy prison houses a prison for females aged 18 years and over. It is the committal prison for females committed on remand or sentenced from all Courts outside the Munster area of Ireland.

People associated with Mountjoy:

A former governor was Charles Arthur Munro, brother of the Edwardian satirist Saki


A 60-hectare site has been acquired for €30 million at Thornton Hall, North County Dublin, where a replacement for Mountjoy is to be constructed. The new facility will accommodate 1,200 prisoners. The site will include court facilities, video-conference links, medical and therapeutic facilities.