Mountjoy inmates aiming for chart-topping success with Christmas album
The 10-track record is being sold to raise money for homlessness charity Simon
From left to right: Eddie Mullins, governor of Mountjoy and Nikki Gallagher, director of communications and secretariat at Solas with the Solas Workplace Choir and the Mountjoy Prison Inhouse Voices at the album’s launch. Photograph: Maxwell Photography
Inmates at Mountjoy Prison are bringing out a Christmas album called “Jingle Jangle”.
The 10-track recording – which includes Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls and Silent Night – is a collaboration between the jail’s own inmate choir and an ensemble of staff at Solas, the State training organisation, which runs courses for prisoners.
Caroline Jones, co-ordinator of the Solas Workplace Choir, said they hoped to make it into the charts, with all proceeds going to help the homeless.
“It is a very raw recording, it is not perfect,” she said.
“The conditions weren’t perfect, but it is a very human piece of work. You never know – you might see us at number 1.”
The idea for an album to raise money for homelessness charity Simon came about after the choirs performed together in March this year, during the interval of a TedEx event held in Mountjoy.
Since then the Solas choir and the inmates choir – called Mountjoy Inhouse Voices – practiced their pieces separately until they met up in the prison church over the past couple of months to rehearse together.
The prison choir, made up of between seven and 10 inmates depending on new recruits and releases, has been going for a few years and meets once a month to rehearse.
The Solas choir, made up of around 30 “mostly white, middle class women” were initially “worried and nervous, and concerned we were doing the right thing and not upsetting anybody”, said Ms Jones.
“But we are all very proud of what we have achieved,” she said.
“I think people are very touched we’re doing this for the homeless – something which is causing huge problems in society. Prisoners don’t often get chance to give something back and they were very grateful for the opportunity.”
The album was recorded in the prison church over two days.
As well as festive favourites, it features The Auld Triangle – the famous lament set in Mountjoy, and which gave the album its title – The Sound of Silence, Stand by Me, Ride On and The Parting Glass.
Eddie Mullins, governor of Mountjoy, said the inmates have produced “a beautiful album and are helping to raise much-needed funds for Dublin Simon at one of the harshest times of year for people experiencing homelessness.”
“We are very proud of what our prison choir has achieved throughout the entire collaboration project with Solas, but we are also very conscious that every prisoner is here for a reason,” he added.