Dr Laura McAtackney is an archaeologist, who is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the UCD School of Social Justice. She has been using archaeological methodologies to record and interpret historic graffiti in the West (Old) Wing of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin where political prisoners from the Easter Rising (1916), War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Civil War (1922-1923) were held. The gaol was closed in 1924 and abandoned until restoration work began in the 1960s. Laura McAtackney’s research focuses on the experiences of female prisoners in the Civil War as evidenced by the graffiti they wrote on the prison walls.
The graffiti was located with the help of lighting provided by Media Services and once interpreted was examined through themes including the role of geographical locations, the use of Gaelige (Irish language) during imprisonment, relationships with the Free State forces and the role of food and hunger strikes. To publicise her findings she has developed the Kilmainham gaol graffiti website which she continues to update in the light of further information.
Vincent Hoban of Media Services helped Laura by advising her on the purchase of a camera, lending lighting and assisting her photographic work on site in the gaol.