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Kilmainham jail's saviours get rewarded

A GROUP of volunteers who effectively saved the historic Kilmainham Gaol from becoming a derelict site have been rewarded with a role in the 1916 commemorations.

Several of the volunteers who worked on the building in the 1960s to prevent it from falling into total disrepair have been appointed to a new board of visitors for the famous prison, which was eventually taken over by the State in 1986.

The board includes Damien Cassidy, who worked on the restoration, and Josephine Lawless, an original guide in the jail.

Other members are Niall Leonard, son of architect Lorcan Leonard who helped with the restoration, and Kathleen Hyland, daughter of Mark Hyland who was also involved.

Kilmainham is one of the most popular heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW). It attracted 326,000 visitors last year alone.

The new board of visitors, appointed by Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes, held its inaugural meeting at the jail yesterday.


The minister said members had a long association with the Kilmainham site and he was pleased they could "contribute their wide knowledge and experience to the future of this important heritage site".

The OPW is moving ahead with an ambitious project to adapt the former Kilmainham courthouse building adjoining the jail for visitor use.

Mr Hayes said this would be a positive development in the history of the site, and it was intended that the new facilities would be completed in time for the 1916 Rising Commemorations in two years' time.

The new board will report to the minister on the condition, requirements and use of Kilmainham Gaol.