Minister O’Dowd visits Crumlin Road Gaol

Date published: 25 August 2022

The Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd today visited the five-star tourist attraction at Crumlin Road Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre (GVACC) for a journey through the Gaol’s history.

Minister O'Dowd with Phelim Devlin, Managing Director, Crumlin Road Gaol Visitor Attraction & Conference Centre

The Minister was given a guided tour of the historic Gaol, the North’s only remaining Victorian era prison, by Managing Director Phelim Devlin.

Following the visit the Minister said:

“I was delighted to visit the Gaol today for a tour of this wonderful facility and to have the opportunity to experience over 170 years of history brought to life through the latest technology and interactive tools.  It is said “every day is a school day” and following my tour this afternoon I can certainly testify to that. I got an insight into what life was like in a 19th century Victoria Gaol for men, women and children.  We have so much history on our doorstep that sometimes we forget this.”  

He added:

“Crumlin Road Gaol, like many businesses was severely impacted by the global pandemic and whilst tourism here has not returned to pre-pandemic levels I am pleased to see that the Gaol facility is now showing signs of recovery.

“I was also delighted that my Department was recently able to lease A wing in the Gaol to Belfast Distillery Company to develop its multi million pound distillery and visitor attraction. Once completed I hope this investment will enhance the tourist experience already being so professionally provided by the GVACC operator and his team.”

Speaking after the visit, Phelim Devlin said,

“We are delighted to have Minister O’Dowd visit the facility today.  I very much welcomed the opportunity to highlight the challenges facing the tourism industry post Covid, the effects the spiralling cost of living crisis is having on the facility and on a more positive note our plans to further enhance the visit experience and encourage repeat visits.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Since opening in late 2012 the Crumlin Road Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre – one of Northern Ireland’s leading attractions has welcomed over 1.3 million International and national visitors to the site. 
  2. The Grade A Listed Gaol, designed by the renowned architect Sir Charles Lanyon was constructed between 1843 and 1845.  It operated as a prison from 1846 to 1996 when it closed.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at:
  4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110
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