There are ambitious multi-million pound plans to transform Northern Ireland’s oldest prison into a four-star hotel.
Armagh jail, which is a listed building, has stood on a prime site in Armagh city for 230 years, during which time it hosted numerous executions. It closed as a prison in 1986.
It was one of the key detention centres for women prisoners during the sectarian unrest (‘The Troubles’) that blighted Northern Ireland for more than thirty years.
Bernadette Devlin, who was jailed there for six months for her part in riots in 1969, commented: “I just hope the food is better there now.” The former Republican MP, who now works with a community group, added: “My main concern would be ensuring that such a beautiful building is maintained and that the money from the sale is put back into improving prison conditions.”
A spokesman for Armagh City Council, which owns the site, said it had chosen the developer who had converted Oxford jail into the award-winning Malmaison Hotel. The council liked the sympathetic way it had treated that project.
by Andy Moreton