Castlerea Prison

  • Hundreds of prisoners are being forced to sleep on the floor of jails because of accomodation shortages.

    New figures from the Irish Times show 572 people - 404 men and 168 women - had to sleep on mattresses on the floor at Limerick prison in July.

    The number was 674 at Midlands Prison in Portlaoise and 119 in Cork.

    The Irish Penal Reform Trust says the scale of the problem is "unacceptable" and a clear breach of human rights.

    The monthly total of prisoners sleeping on floors in Castlerea Prison in July was 115 - an average of four per night.


    Deirdre Malone, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, said the scale of the problem is “entirely unacceptable, and in clear contravention of basic human rights norms, including the European Prison Rules”.

    She said this should not be happening in 21st century Ireland.

    Ms Malone said overcrowding decreases the chance of meaningful rehabilitation, increases tensions and makes prisons less safe for prisoners and staff.


  • A Sligo man, who was accused of conveying illegal drugs into Castlerea Prison, has been found not guilty at the circuit court.

    Judge Francis Comerford directed the jury to find 32-year-old John Kennedy, Castleburn, Ballymote not guilty to a charge that between April 9 and 10 2015, he conveyed PVP a synthetic drug into Castlerea prison.

    The direction was made after a submission from the defence during legal argument in the absence of the jury.

    The judge also directed the jury to find the defendant not guilty of a charge of unlawful possession of the drug at Ballisodare Post Office on April 9 2015.

    The defendant had pleaded not guilty to both charges before a jury in a trial that lasted almost three weeks at Sligo Circuit Court.

  • The Irish Prison Service has confirmed to Midwest News that a prisoner from Castlerea Prison, who was attending the emergency department of Mayo University Hospital yesterday, escaped from custody while at the hospital.

    A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told Midwest News this afternoon that they could confirm a male prisoner had escaped and that the Gardai have been notified and they are still actively seeking his return to custody.

  • A man in his 40s has been charged in connection with the discovery of a drone and drugs in a car next to Castlerea prison in Co. Roscommon yesterday morning.  

    Garda found two mobiles, a smart watch, around 440 tablets and cannabis herb along with a drone which was in the process of being set up, when they stopped and search a car yesterday morning.

    The Governor of Castlerea Prison said in a statement yesterday evening that the prison works closely with Gardai, and welcomes their invention and continued support in assisting the prevention of contraband entering the prison.

    A man and a woman were arrested, the woman in her 40s has since been released without charge while the man is due to appear before Castlerea District Court on May 26th.


  • Over 300 pints of homemade alcohol were seized at Castlerea Prison last year - despite efforts to clamp down on contraband.

    According to the Irish Examiner, prison officers made more than 1,100 drug seizures in Irish prisons in 2018, along with seizures of mobile phones and weapons.

    During searches, prison officers also seized over 750 pints of homemade alcohol, known as hooch.

    The largest quantity of over 300 pints was confiscated at Castlerea Prison, with 107 pints seized in Cork Prison and 192 pints in Mountjoy.

    The Irish Prison Service says preventing the access of contraband into prisons remains a high priority for them.






  • Plans are progressing to build an equine unit at Castlerea Prison, which will allow prisoners to work with horses.

    It's hoped the stable unit may open next Spring, according to Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation and a former blood stock agent, who has raised over €100,000 euro for the stud facility.

    Mr Irwin came up with the idea after visiting a prison in the United States, says it's been proven that the rate of reoffending drops significantly among prisoners who learn about the care and management of horses.

    The Irish Prison Service is supporting the project, which would be the first of its kind in Europe, and surveyors will look at possible sites within the prison grounds next week.

    Jonathan Irwin told Midwest News this lunchtime that this project has been a dream of his for the past 30 years, and he hopes it will open next Spring.

  • Prison officers were injured 137 times last year while trying to restrain an inmate.

    That's up from 91 similar incidents in 2017, according to the Irish Examiner.

    "Restraint intervention" cover situations where a prisoner is not complying - including when they're assaulting another inmate - and prison officers are injured trying to restrain them.

    Of the 137 such incidents last year, 11 were recorded in Castlerea Prison.

    These are in addition to 110 direct assaults on staff by prisoners last year.

    The annual figures have been rising steadily since 2015.

    Mountjoy and Cork prisons had the highest number of assaults on staff by prisoners.



  • Searches are continuing in Mayo for a prisoner who escaped from a hospital over the weekend.

    The man, who was on remand at Castlerea prison, is understood to have escaped from Mayo University hospital on Saturday morning after being brought to the facility for treatment.

    The 34-year-old, who is described as having brown hair and an athletic build, escaped from the hospital on foot and searches are currently ongoing.

    The Irish Prison Service confirmed to Midwest News this evening that the prisoner still remains at large.

    Anyone who may have seen the man, or know of his whereabouts, is asked to contact their local Garda station.

  • A man and woman were arrested in Castlerea this morning as Gardai seized controlled drugs, a drone and a number of other items.

    At about 11am this morning, Gardai stopped and searched a car at Harristown -adjacent to Castlerea Prison.

    During the course of the search, two mobile phones, a watch phone, about 440 tablets and cannabis herb were recovered, along with a drone which was in the process of being set up.

    The 46-year old man and 45 year old woman were arrested at the scene and are being detained at Castlerea Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

    The Governor of Castlerea Prison said in a statement this evening that the prison works closely with Gardai, and welcomes their invention and continued support in assisting the prevention of contraband entering the prison.