Mitchel Hall was completed in 1851 by the convict and civilian labour and the wider ‘C Block’ as it was known housed convicts sent from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. The central hall was used as an Anglican chapel until the prisoners left in the late 1800s. This attractive building with its ornate facade saw its central hall used for dances by the island residents on Friday evenings, be they the families of soldiers or of prison officers. Former residents tell stories of great excitement leading up to the dances during the Irish army period, from 1938 to 1985, when dresses would be ordered from Selfrides in London for the big event. The British servicemen held coronation balls to celebrate the arrival of new monarchs. It has seen marriages and many other events celebrated down the years.
Part of the block was used by the army for married quarters. After 1985 the northern half of the block was used as a prison school, while the southern half was used as prison officers quarters. Many prisoners and even the teachers have relayed fond memories of the classes they attended in the C Block during this time, with many of the works created in the art classes on show in the islands Punishment Block.
Today the block houses temporary art exhibitions and holds concerts in its former Anglican church, while the adjoining rooms hold an auditorium and a Spike Island social history exhbition. The ground floor ‘Independence’ exhbition in the north side of the building tells the story of the path to Irish freedeom from 1914 to 1921. There are also rooms dedicated to the Irish Army, Naval Service and Air Corps as well as our Little Nellie exhbition.