Last night we shot some video inside the squatted Debtors prison in Dublin - the courts have ordered those living here to get out by midnight on Sunday, 11.59 to be exact. The abandoned prison in Dublins inner city has been occupied to be used as shelter and an arts space. The prison lies just behind Capel st, the entrance is on Halston st. Many of those occupying were recently evicted from Grangegorman squat The occupation was announced via Grangegorman Resists Eviction page last week.
The basement has nasty dark cells where poor prisoners were kept But as a debtors prison many of the inmates were wealthy gamblers. In the 1790s when the prison was built, they could rent upstairs room Complete with fire places which are still quite habitable today.
There are 33 such rooms which were still public housing in the 1980s The last elderly tenant was there in the early 1980s on the 2nd floor. She played a mouth organ which could be heard resonating all over the prison. erhaps she lived in this very room - once more a home. The state is seeking to get the people now living here evicted. Saying putting them on the streets would be for their own good because the building is in a state of disrepair and there is pigeon shit. Plenty of pigeon shit on the cold dark streets of Dublin through.
The people living here don't want to leave their new homes. They want to fix it up and make it safe but also open it up. As an art performanace space just as they did in Grangegorman. A local business has offered a grant of 10k a year for 10 years to help.
Certainly some of it needs a lot of work after years abandoned The ground floor in particular is in a poor state, perhaps due to vandalism? That happens to buildings left empty & abandoned. But right now enough has been fixed up for about 15 people to live here and with so many already homeless throwing them on the streets doesn't sound like any sort of sensible solution to anything.
The building has had a lot of uses over more than 200 years It was a police barricks too, first for the RIC and then later the Garda.
It's behind the old Special Criminal Court on Green st. Robert Emmet was tried there after the 1803 rebellion. And the IRA may well have blown a hole in one wall during an escape bid from a Special Criminal Court trial in the 1980's. Quite recently its been used as a film location
It's now a home again rather than a slowly rotting vacant The courtyard could host art performances. In fact it will this Sunday afternoon from 4pm
The courts have said those living here have to be out by midnight Sunday. When we left eviction documents had been stuck to the gates. Dublin has seen so many evictions from buildings then left empty, see www.wsm.ie/squat for some of those stories.
Words & video:Andrew Flood (follow Andrew on Twitter)