Unfortunately due to technical issues (i.e. my hubris in using a new camera without knowing how it worked – John Kelly) last weeks talk had very poor sound. Thankfully,  Christopher Power has generously agreed to deliver the talk again by Zoom @ 8pm tonight. We hope you can attend or view the talk on our YouTube  channel over the coming weeks.

Zoom details
Topic: Records of Carlow Gaol – Take 2! 8pm Tonight


Carlow is lucky that a great deal of its former history has survived in the form of fascinating jail records and the infrastructure of the former prison (now Carlow Shopping Centre) which exists in the town centre. The county is particularly fortunate that rarely seen records, from some of the most extraordinary periods of Irish history, have survived. They form a fascinating and accessible collection of material, containing extraordinary details about ordinary people’s lives. Documents outlining the misery and desperation of crimes committed in rural and urban Carlow are described in this lecture.  Deportation and hard labour were commonplace punishments, the standard penalty for most misdemeanors. More serious crimes invariably resulted in worse punishment. Desperate, homeless and mentally unwell citizens were faced with the full rigors of the law and the harshest of sentences. This resulted in the breaking up of families and caused unknown misery. These tragic records are made all the more poignant by familiar family names, from across the county, signifying real people living through terrible times.

Other records relate to  panic stricken people attempting to obtain gun licenses in the run up to the 1798 Rebellion. This give some indication of the unrest which existed at the period. What is striking from the records described, is the well oiled bureaucracy and the efficiency of Grand Juries in administrating the many functions of a surprisingly modern civil service. 

Well known and lesser known figures, some controversial, are listed these records so recognizable in beautiful calligraphy. Justice Lord John Cornwall (who resided in Myshall) synonymous with the song The Croppy Boy is featured in a fascinating document administering “justice” to desperate unfortunates in  1818.

The earliest document described in the lecture is from 1763 and relates to the feeding of bread to hungry prisoners in Carlow’s first and long forgotten jail.

 Full visuals and photographs will be used on the night to describe the various aspects of prison life.

Christopher Power works in Carlow Library. He has a keen interest in local history and has  written a number of articles and books in relation to Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow. 

The talk will take place in person on Wed 17 November @ 8 pm in the Seven Oaks Hotel. 

The talk can also be accessed remotely via Zoom at the link below:

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