Unsurrendered Spirits: The Prison Writings of Dorothy Macardle

17 April 18

To coincide with Dublin City Council’s One City, One Book initiative, Kilmainham Gaol Museum is proud to unveil a new exhibition focusing on the work of pioneering writer Dorothy Macardle.

Macardle was an unlikely rebel.  She came from a wealthy Dundalk-based brewing family and taught in Alexandra College but through her friendship with Maud Gonne, she became involved in the Irish revolutionary movement.  She supported the Anti-Treaty side during the Civil War which led to her arrest and imprisonment in November 1922.  Her time in prison gave her the opportunity to explore her interest in creative writing and led to the publication of a collection of gothic short stories in 1924 called Earth-bound: Nine Stories of Ireland.

She dedicated each of the nine stories to a fellow female republican prisoner and the exhibition includes rarely-seen objects related to each of these nine women, including the suffragist and socialist Rosamond Jacob and Nora Connolly O’Brien, the daughter of the 1916 leader James Connolly.

Rarely seen objects on show include an autograph book containing the signatures of the Irish delegates at the Treaty negotiations, an original typescript of ‘The Kilmainham Tortures’, Macardle’s shocking account of the forced removal of women prisoners from Kilmainham Gaol in April 1923, Maud Gonne’s original Inghinidhe na hÉireann sash, and a pair of spectacles owned by Éamon de Valera.

Other fascinating items are a programme from a concert held by the women prisoners in 1923 to commemorate the heroes of the 1916 Rising, a knife and spoon smuggled out of Mountjoy Prison by Eithne Coyle on her escape in 1921, plus a rare first edition of Macardle’s Earth-bound collection.

Macardle became a full time writer on her release, and retained her interest in the paranormal with her gothic novel, The Uninvited.  Recently republished by Tramp Press, the book was turned into an Oscar nominated film in 1944 starring Ray Milland.  She continued to write up until her death in 1958.

Unsurrendered Spirits: The Prison Writings of Dorothy Macardle runs at Kilmainham Gaol Museum until Sunday, September 30th and admission is free.


For further information and high res images, please contact Brian Crowley, Kilmainham Gaol Collections Curator, at 01 453 5984 or at brian.crowley@opw.ie

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Visit Kilmainham Gaol – see www.kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie for further details.

Notes for editors

Kilmainham Gaol is located at Inchicore Road, Dublin 8 and is currently open from 09.00 to 18.00, seven days a week.

Dublin: One City, One Book is a Dublin City Council initiative which encourages the public to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April. This year’s book is The Long Gaze Back, an award-winning anthology of short stories by Irish women writers, edited by Sinéad Gleeson.