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No porridge on menu as Armagh Gaol becomes a restaurant

Published 22/11/2010

An 18th century jail infamous for housing murderers is to welcome a different type of inmate when it transforms into a gourmet eatery.

For one weekend next month the heavy gates of notorious Armagh Gaol are being thrust open to the public for a unique fine dining event.

The restaurant with a difference is the brainchild of chef Simon Dougan from the Yellow Door catering company.

Foodie “inmates” won’t be facing porridge at the listed building, as a sumptuous banquet is being provided, plus a talk on the history of the jail.

The prison has lain vacant for the past 22 years since its closure in 1988 and is presently on the ‘built heritage at risk’ list.

To safeguard the long-term future of the building, sustainable and appropriate new uses for the jail are being considered.

Mr Dougan said: “It is a million miles from prison food.

“It’s going to be a real challenge because the cell blocks we are using for the night are derelict.

“We will have to bring in water, heat, electricity and the kitchens.

“We even have to bring in toilets and tick off a lot of health and safety issues, but we know it will be worth it.”

Guests will enter the 1780s jail via the gardens, where hanged prisoners are buried in unmarked graves.

Mr Dougan added: “The history aside, Armagh Gaol is a superb Georgian building and it will have a unique atmosphere.

“The good news is there will be no need for an escape plan as our food will be scrumptious.”

There are places for 200 diners in total on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4.

To make a reservation, please call 02838353528 or email

Belfast Telegraph

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