Abandoned and let fall into disrepair for years a group of volunteers are renovating Kilmainham Gaol.

Carpenter Jim (Seamus) Bruce describes the challenges faced in trying to restore Kilmainham Gaol.

Beginning in May 1960, a group of dedicated volunteers carried out badly needed restoration work on Kilmaingam Gaol. From the outset, carpenter Jim Bruce took charge the restoration of the central compound of the historic building and the responsibility for recruiting voluntary workers for the project.

When he first entered the Gaol, Jim likened it to being in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil.

It was completely overgrown with shrubs, trees and matted undergrowth and our first job was to try and hack a path through this.

The roofs of the Gaol are the greatest example of neglect that Jim has ever seen. Therefore the majority of labour is focused on saving the roofs.

We believe that if we can save the roofs we can save the Gaol.

This task was very dangerous at the beginning, particularly in the main complex which had broken panes of glass in the roof. These had to be knocked down as a safety precaution and any loose slates were removed.

The volunteers could not afford to buy or hire the amount of scaffolding required for the restoration project but they solved this problem by devising their own adequate and safe scaffolding.

The volunteers are generally,

Ordinary working men who most of them, their fathers or someone belonging to them has been attached to the national struggle.

Many of the younger volunteers do have any knowledge of the history of the Gaol or the history of the country, but nevertheless, they are determined to help.

The original five year completion date for the project was estimated upon the numbers of volunteers working at the beginning of the project. However following a bad winter, a fire and the decline in volunteer numbers, Jim estimates the project is about a year behind schedule.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 May 1963. The reporter is Sean Egan.