WHAT IS THE PMA?

The Prisons Memory Archive is an inclusive collection of walk-and-talk recordings with those who had a connection with Armagh Gaol and Maze and Long Kesh during the conflict in Northern Ireland / the North of Ireland.

Participants in the project – including former prisoners, prison officers, visitors, journalists and educators – revisited the prison sites in 2006 and 2007. They were invited to recount their experiences there using the oral history tradition of life-storytelling.

The full PMA collection is housed at the Public Record Office (PRONI). On this website, you will find selected extracts and full recordings, as well as shorts and feature films based on the PMA.

Armagh Gaol shot of one of the wings 2nd floor

Interior view of Armagh Gaol. Originally built in the late 1700s, Armagh held primarily female prisoners throughout its active lifetime.

Demolished Compounds - Outside rubble viewed from Inside

A partly demolished Nissen hut at Maze and Long Kesh. Much of the site was cleared for redevelopment in the mid-late 2000s. Demolition works can be seen and heard in the background of several PMA recordings.

Compound Exterior overrun with plants

An overgrown Nissen hut at Maze and Long Kesh. Some huts were originally constructed for the Long Kesh RAF airfield before being repurposed, along with new builds, to hold internees from 1971.

Chapel chairs hit with window light

Interior of the chapel building at Maze and Long Kesh.

Drawings of the prison

A prisoner’s artwork left at Maze and Long Kesh. Artists and educators ran a range of classes and workshops with prisoners on site.

Signs saying Parcels and Visits Reception

Signage at Maze and Long Kesh. The interactive map feature shows the layout of the prison complex and reveals how different participants remember it.

Armagh Gaol shot of one of the wings 2nd floor

View along an upper wing of Armagh Gaol. The prison closed in 1986.

INSIDE STORIES

One of the first PMA films was Inside Stories, produced by Cahal McLaughlin in 2005. In the film, a loyalist ex-prisoner, a republican ex-prisoner, a prison officer, an educator and an artist recounted their personal experiences of Maze and Long Kesh.

A visual of one of the broken windows inside one of the compounds.
Former Emergency Control Room blank TV screens
Rusted wall with wire over it at the Maze
Maze and Long Kesh Map with signage.

The Prisons

Armagh Gaol had operated as a women’s prison long before the conflict, while the site of Maze and Long Kesh had a very different history.

Restricted and confidential documents

Context

Specially commissioned essays and a Glossary of key terms set the context for the PMA collection and the diverse topics of the recordings.

Education building viewed from fence

PMA for Education

The PMA has developed a unique set of learning resources for GCSE students and their teachers. Each resource covers a specific theme relating to the prisons, with extracts from the PMA collection.