MTU Cork Campus Cork Prison Programme

Munster Technological University Cork Prison Lecture Series

MTU Cork Campus Access Service has developed links with Cork Prison since 2017. During this time, the Access Service has developed a programme where academic staff volunteer their time to deliver an annual Taster Programme to prisoners and their families through the Dillon’s Cross Project.

The Munster Technological University, Education Unit in Cork Prison and Dillon’s Cross Project ‘Lecture Series’ is a unique, innovative and collaborative programme aimed at providing learning opportunities for prisoners whilst in custody and for their families in the community. The Taster Series lectures cover a range of different themes and are delivered voluntarily by MTU academic staff from across all Faculties. In 2019, ten lectures in areas such as Science, Culinary Studies, Art, Apprenticeships, Engineering, Sports were provided to the prisoners and to the female family members in the community supported by the Dillon’s Cross Project. There was great interest from prisoners with a total of 75 prisoners attending some or all of these sessions in the prison. After a gap in service, due to the Pandemic, the Prison Taster Series is being delivered again in 2022. The objective of the programme is to promote further educational opportunities and present positive learning pathways as alternatives to a life of crime for all participants.

Please click here for this year's schedule of lectures- MTU Cork Prison Lecture Series 2022


As part of the programme we also engage with the wives, partners and relatives of prisoners  through the Dillon’s Cross Project in the community and offer them an opportunity to
avail of the same lectures that are on offer in Cork Prison.

In addition, in 2019, CIT/MTU also supported the Cork Prison/Community Summer Sports & Activity Camp in the Glen Resource Centre. The MTU Traveller Education Coordinator, who is also a qualified Art teacher and graduate of CIT as well as being a member of the Traveller Community, delivered an art programme which focused on education, for children of prisoners. This programme involved a total of 72 boys between the ages of 6 and 12 years of age. The design of the programme is very much built around the needs and interests of the participants.

All participating organisations are interested in making this programme a success for participants. Stakeholder interests are taken into account when designing the sessions and all feedback has allowed the programme to grow and continues to be a success in Cork Prison, allowing for a meaningful learning impact for participants.

Culinary Skills- Single subject certificate 

The evaluation process of the lecture series in 2018 highlighted that there was a strong interest in Culinary Skills from the prisoners as it offers a very realistic pathway to further education and employment for many participants post-release. In the academic year 2019-2020, a 5 credit Single Subject Certificate in Culinary Skills was offered to prisoners. The participants on the programme benefited by being exposed to new learning opportunities. They also earned a Level 2 Primary Food Hygiene Award from the Environmental Health Officers Association, a compulsory award which is required to work full-time in a commercial kitchen and considered a bonus credential by future employers.

In 2022, the Culinary Skills Module was delivered for a second time. Six prisoners took part in the programme and a Pop-Up Restaurant was created within the Prison for prisoners on the programme to demonstrate their culinary skills to employers in the Tourism and Hospitality sector.

MTU Cork Campus Culinary Arts lecturer JJ Healy, who delivers the course in Cork Prison said, “The participant's interest, attention to detail and finished products were excellent. With a current lack of qualified chefs in the hospitality sector, this collaboration benefits both industry and prisoners greatly, creating a talent pool of motivated employees while enabling ex-prisoners to retrain and enter the workforce”.

‘The Open Door’ Pop-Up Restaurant Event 

‘The Open Door’ Pop-Up Restaurant Event will take place in Cork Prison on Tuesday 5th from 7-9pm to showcase the culinary skills gained by participants on the course. Attendees will include industry partners from the hospitality sector who have indicated their interest and willingness to offer participants employment on their release. This event will take place as part of the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival.