Newgate Prison, Dublin

Newgate Prison

Front elevation by Robert Pool
General information
Type Prison
Location 'Little Green' (St. Michan's Park), Dublin.
Construction started 1773
Completed 1783
Demolished 1893
Design and construction
Architect Thomas Cooley

Newgate Prison was a place of detention in Dublin until its closure in 1863. It was initially located at Cornmarket, near Christ Church Cathedral, on the south side of the Liffey, and was originally one of the city gates.


From city gate to prison

The exact date of construction of the New Gate is uncertain but it is recorded in 1188. From 1485 this city gate, which marked the western boundary, was used as Dublin's main prison. It was one hundred and eighty feet south of another gate, 'Brown's Castle', which would also become a place of detention known as the Black Dog.[1]

18th century relocation

Between 1773 and 1781, a new prison designed by Thomas Cooley was built to replace the earlier ruined prison. It was relocated to 'Little Green', present-day St. Michan's Park near Smithfield, and officially retained the old name. The new building was badly located and adequate sewerage could not be installed. There were also security concerns as the rear wall of the cells was also the site boundary wall. While there are no reports of successful escapes via this route, it was raised by Inspectors as an obvious design deficiency. The prison was also badly administrated,[citation needed] with all classes of prisoners mingled together, up to 14 in a single cell. After inspections in the early 19th century some improvements were provided.[2]

19th century

By the 1840s it was used solely for the holding of remand prisoners, both male and female, usually for a period between a few days and three weeks. On conviction and before sentencing the men were transferred to Richmond Bridewell and the women to Grangegorman-lane Prison. When visited by one of the Prison Inspectors in 1843 there were "30 Males, 9 Females and 11 Lunatics" confined there, but this was considerably less than the average of 100 usually kept there. They were accommodated in 62 cells, 4 dark 'solitary cells', 9 day-rooms, a chapel, 4 small rooms used as a hospital and a number of rooms previously used to hold debtors. There was no laundry or kitchen, the food consisting of bread and milk only. It was staffed by a Governor, Deputy Governor, Clerk, Schoolmaster and ten 'Turnkeys'.[3] The prison finally closed in 1863, from which time until its demolition in 1893 it was used as a fruit and vegetable market. The outline of some of the Newgate Prison foundations are still visible at St. Michan's Park.


  1. ^ Gilbert, John Thomas (1854). A history of the city of Dublin. 1. J. McGlashan. p. 257. Retrieved 12/06/2010. 
  2. ^ Dalton: A New Picture of Dublin, Dublin, 1835. p. 169
  3. ^ Inspectors General of Prisons, Ireland (1843). NINTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE POOR LAW COMMISSIONERS, WITH APPENDICES. 1 of 16 (9 ed.). HM Stationary Office. pp. 14 to 16. Retrieved 11/06/2010. 

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