St Peters (Dublin)

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Richmond Bridewell in 1813
Richmond Bridewell in 1813

Dún Uí Ghríofa aka Griffith Barracks on the South Circular Road is a former military barracks that was a prison before that.  


In 1813, the site originally known as the Grimswoods Nurseries was developed as a remand prison (designed by Francis Johnston) to relieve pressure on Dublin's Newgate Prison.


In 1835, it became a male penitentiary known as the Richmond Bridewell. The motto above the door read "Cease to do evil; learn to do well." In 1837, Samuel Lewis wrote:

The Richmond Bridewell, on the Circular Road, erected by the city at an expense of £40,000, is a spacious structure enclosed by walls flanked with towers at the angles, and is entered by a massive gateway ;

  • between the outer wall and the main building is a wide space, intended for a rope-walk;
  • the interior consists of two spacious quadrangles, the sides of which are all occupied by buildings;
  • the cells, which are on the first floor, open into corridors with entrances at each end;
  • the rooms in the second floor are used as work-rooms;
  • the male and female prisoners occupy distinct portions of the prison;
  • the prisoners not sentenced to the treadmill are employed in profitable labour, and a portion of their earnings is paid to them on their discharge;
  • they are visited by a Protestant and an R. C. chaplain, a physician, surgeon, and apothecary.

A great improvement in the city prisons is now in progress. Attached to the city are the manor or liberty of St. Sepulchre, belonging to the Archbishop of Dublin; the manor of Grangegorman or Glasnevin, belonging to the dean of Christ-Church; the manor of Thomas-Court and Donore, belonging to the Earl of Meath; and the liberty of the deanery of St. Patrick.

  • The Liberty of St. Sepulchre extends over a part of the city, including the parishes of St. Patrick, St. Nicholas Without, and St. Kevin; also over a large tract of the county of Dublin to the south-east of the city, as far as the Wicklow boundary, including a small portion of the latter county and of Kildare, bordering on that of Dublin, The court is held at Longlane, in the county of Dublin, before the archbishop's seneschal, and has a very extensive criminal as well as civil jurisdiction, but exercises only the latter: the court-house and prison for the whole archbishopric are situated there. It has a civil bill jurisdiction to any amount, extended to the Dublin manor courts in 1826. At the record side the proceedings are either by action against the body, for sums under £20 by service and above it by arrest; or, for sums above £10, by attachment against the goods. The court at the record side sits every Tuesday and Friday; the civil bill court, generally on alternate Wednesdays, except in the law terms, when it stands adjourned. At this court, in which a jury is always impanelled and sworn, sums to any amount may be recovered at a trifling expense.
  • The jurisdiction of the Manor Court of Glasnevin is of great extent, comprising the baronies of Coolock, Castleknock, and Half-Rathdown, in the county of Dublin, and the lordship of St. Mary's Abbey, which includes portions of the city and county. The seneschal sits in Dublin every Friday, and at Kingstown on alternate Fridays for the convenience of that town and the surrounding parishes within his jurisdiction. Causes are tried before a jury, and debts to any amount are recoverable at a small expense; from 900 to 1000 causes are heard annually.
  • Thomas-Court and Donore Manor Court has a jurisdiction extending over the barony of Donore, and that part of the liberty of Thomas-Court which is within the city: the civil bill court, in which debts to any amount are recoverable, is held every Wednesday in the courthouse in Thomas-Court, a plain building erected in 1160; a record court is also held there every Wednesday and Saturday.

In 1844, Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) the Great Emancipator became one of its most famous inmates. Other Prominent Irish Nationalist leaders imprisoned here included William Smith O'Brien (1803-1864), Thomas Francis Meagher, and James Stephens.


In 1877 the Bridewell was was transferred to the War Office. In the summer of 1892, it was occupied by a battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. By 11 November 1893, the additions and extensions were complete and it becmae known as Wellington Barracks (after the Duke of Wellington.

Many of the soldiers being sent to fight in the First World War were recruited and trained here. During the 1916 Easter Rising, it held a British garrison of fewer than 100 men,  but was not attacked. The poorly armed garrison dispatched one patrol and lost one soldier in the action.


 On 15 April 1922, the barracks was garrisoned by the new Irish Army, and was among the first to be handed over to the Irish Free State following independence.  

 On 8 November 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Anti-Treaty fighters fired on troops drilling in the main square at the barracks from positions across the Grand Canal. (One soldier and two civilians were killed, and fourteen soldiers and many civilians were severly injured). The barracks was later renamed by the Army Council in honour of Arthur Griffith.


In 1937 part of the barracks was leased to the Irish Athletic Boxing Association and is still known as the National Stadium today. 

In 1988, the last soldiers left the barracks and transferred to Cathal Brugha Barracks (formerly Portobello Barracks)and the buildings were refurbished for educational use.


In the summer of 1991, it reopened as Griffith College Dublin. Followed by the opening of the Griffith Barracks Multi-Denominational School in April 1998.


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History of Griffith's Barracks from 1813 Ireland VIEW SOURCE

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