While the tour of Cork City Gaol focuses on the unknown prisoners, there was a number of well-known people who were incarcerated here for a number of different (mainly political) reasons.
The Young Ireland movement was a political and cultural movement that was active in the 1840s. The Young Irelanders encouraged the study of Irish history and the Irish language as a way to develop a sense nationalism in order to achieve independence. After a failed rebellion in 1848 a number of its members were imprisoned in Cork City Gaol. Those imprisoned included: Denny Lane, Terence Bellew McManus, Ralph Varian, Isaac Varian.
The Fenian movement embodied the Young Ireland ideals and also supported the idea of a revolution. A rising was planned for late in 1865 but the government, alerted by spies within the organisation, arrested and imprisoned the leaders and other suspects. Among those imprisoned in Cork City Gaol were: Brian Dillon, John Sarsfield Casey and James Mountaine.
The Irish National Land League was a political organisation which aimed to help poor tenant farmers. Hannah Reynolds, a member of the Ladies land league, was arrested for offering to help tenants who were about to be evicted from their homes. She was sent to Cork City Gaol for 1 month after refusing to pay a fine.
Countess Constance Markievicz was sentenced to 4 months here in 1919. She was an officer in the Irish Citizens Army in 1916 when she fought in St Stephens Green. She was the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament, although she refused to take her seat, instead she became Minister for labour in De Valeras provisional government.
Frank O’Connor, born Michael O’Donovan, was a famous short story writer who was born in Cork. He was briefly imprisoned in Cork City Gaol during the Civil War.