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Curator's Choice

The following is an extract from the interview with Sean, the curator, where he responds to the question "If a disaster were to happen, which items would you most likely save, given the chance,":

There are four items of particular interest to him and for which he has a special fondness. These are:

  • The Hangman's Rope and Box
  • The Convict’s Canvas Frock (jacket) known as the Broad Arrow
  • The Liberty Suit
  • The Maxim Machine Gun

The Ropes and all the contents of the Hangman’s Box: The ropes are made from fine hemp and are in pristine condition. Many an unfortunate man and woman met their fate at the end of these ropes.(see Hang House)

Convict’s Canvas Frock: It's the oldest item in the museum. It dates from the 1880's and wouldn't have been a very comfortable jacket to wear. It was given to troublesome prisoners who repeatedly tore up their uniforms. These jackets were made from canvas and couldn’t be destroyed by tearing. The arrow print on the jacket meant it belongs to the crown.

The Liberty Suit: On release, a penal servitude prisoner would have a new suit made to measure by the prison tailor in the Tailor's workshop on “A” Wing. The material was actually woven on one of the 24 looms in the workshop. It was then sent to Lucan to a place called Hills where they dyed it for prison use and officers uniforms. A former inmate here, Mannix Flynn actually wrote a play called The Liberty Suit. A similar type of suit in tan was used for prisoners on remand.

The Maxim Gun: While digging foundations for a new Medical Unit, the gun was discovered by workers. It was in very poor condition and was painstakingly restored with the help of officers, prisoners and the Irish army. The gun had originally been mounted on the front steps of Mountjoy in 1939, while German prisoners were held in the prison. Helmets displayed with this gun were worn by the Irish army at the time and were actually German First World War helmets painted green.

Hangman's Box

Hangman's Box

Hanging Rope

Hanging Rope

Broad Arrow Jacket Liberty Suit

Broad Arrow Jacket and Liberty Suit

Maxim Gun

Maxim Gun