of the 1830's
Tarbert Bridewell was built in 1831 incorporating prison cells, an exercise yard, keepers quarters and a courtroom and its elegant cut limestone exterior stands as a tribute to the fine craftsmen of the early 19th century. For more than 100 years it served as a Courthouse & Jail. The Courthouse was used for the dispensing of justice and the cells and yards for the temporary confinement of prisoners prior to removal to the County Jail in Tralee.
The Bridewell ceased to operate as a jail in 1874 but continued in use as a Courthouse for a further 75 years. A local family were the last residential caretakers of the Bridewell and lived there up to the 1950’s. For the next 30 years the building being unoccupied, steadily deteriorated and by the mid 1980’s had become derelict.
In 1987 the Bridewell Project Group was formed with a view to retaining, restoring and developing this fine building. In 1993 the Bridewell opened as a Visitor Centre.
The impetus for the formation of the Tarbert Bridewell Group stemmed from Tarbert Development Association and the restoration would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the Community & its exiles and State Agencies. Tarbert Bridewell is owned by the community. The Building is held in Trust by a Board of Trustees and a voluntary Board of Management oversees the business of the Bridewell.
Today Tarbert Bridewell Visitor Centre features the entertaining and historically informative Exhibition which depicts rough justice in 19th Century Ireland. It also houses an exhibition on the life & works of Thomas McGreevy the famous Tarbert Poet.
The Bridewell has a Coffee Shop & Gift Centre and hosts many events – Musical evenings – Weekly Whist Drive – Singing Classes – Art exhibitions to mention a few.
Ireland in the 1830’s
These were hard years for the Irish people. In these difficult and unsettled times punishment was handed out often and harshly. One poor soul to suffer under this system was Thomas Dillon. As you experience the Bridewell Courthouse and Jail you will follow the horror of the judicial regieme on the 1830’s and the fate of Thomas Dillon.
This is an experience of the past, the scenes, the sounds, the character expressions. These all add to the authentic atmosphere of that time.