1st Edition

Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962 Pilgrimage of Desolation

By Seán McConville Copyright 2014
    1184 Pages
    by Routledge

    Irish Political Prisoners presents a detailed and gripping overview of political imprisonment from 1920-1962. Seán McConville examines the years from the formation of the Northern Ireland state to the release of the last border campaign prisoners in 1962.

    Drawing extensively and, in many cases, uniquely on archives and special collections in the three jurisdictions, and interviews with survivors from the period, McConville demonstrates how punishment came to embody and shape the nationalist consciousness. Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962 commences with the legacy of the Anglo Irish and Irish Civil Wars - militancy, division and bitterness. The book travels from the embedding of Northern Ireland’s security agenda in the 1920’s, and the IRA’s search for a role in the 1930’s (including the 1939 bombing campaign against Britain) to the decisive use of internment during the war and the border campaign years. This volume will be an essential resource for students of Irish history and is a major contribution to the study of imprisonment.


      List of abbreviations.  Author’s note.  Acknowledgements.  Introduction.  1 Loyalties: Britain and Ireland.  2 Northern Ireland: ourselves alone.  3 Closing the books: Britain and Ireland, 1920 -6.  4 An instrument of war: Free State prisoners, 1922-4.  5 Women in prison.  6 The inter-war years in the South.  7 Northern Ireland: internment in the 1920s.  8 Imprisonment in Northern Ireland: the inter-war years.  9 The 1939-40 bombing campaign.  10 Internees in Northern Ireland, 1939-45.  11 Imprisonment in Northern Ireland, 1939-48.  12 A world at war: guarding the state.  13 Imprisonment and internment in Éire, 1939-48.  14 The Border Campaign, 1953-62.  15 Convicted prisoners in Northern Ireland and England, 1954-62.  16 Northern Ireland: internment, December 1956-April 1961.  17 Be careful what you wish: the Republic of Ireland in the 1950s.  18 Internment in the Republic of Ireland: July 1957-March 1959.  19 The desolated shrine.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index.


      Seán McConville is Professor of Law and Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. He has researched and taught at leading universities on both sides of the Atlantic. His interests and publications range widely, from Islamic criminal law to prison architecture, but have clustered around the philosophy and administration of punishment – historically, comparatively and in current debates. He is the author of the first in this trilogy Irish Political Prisoners 1848-1922 (Routledge, 2005).

      "Irish Political Prisoners, 1920–1962 is a meticulously researched book that marks the partial culmination of an ambitious scholarly endeavour. It is...an unsurpassed account of how the struggle for Irish freedom was shaped by the carceral experiences of its protagonists. This is a fascinating book written with style, verve and scrupulous attention to detail. It will be read with profit by those who take an interest in politics, history, penal policy, or criminal justice."-Ian O’Donnell, University College Dublin 

      "...it is important in our understanding of Irish and Anglo-Irish history that we have such a reliable guide to show us the role played by Irish political imprisonment, a guide who is prepared to unveil so wisely what happened in these arguable quieter years of Irish political development." Richard English, University of St. Andrews