The Governor

Front Cover
Penguin UK, Oct 9, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages

In his talks to communities throughout the length and breath of Ireland, John Lonergan finds himself coming back to one theme: the importance of kindness. It is an unexpected theme for the former boss of Ireland's biggest and toughest prison, Mountjoy, but then John Lonergan is an unusual man.

John entered the prison service in 1968 and in the years that followed, as he saw human nature at its worst - and often, unexpectedly, at its best - he developed a deep understanding both of human nature and of Irish society.

Now, after 42 years in the service, 26 of them as the most senior prison officer in the country, John tells his fascinating life story - from his idyllic childhood in rural Tipperary, to coming face to face with the ugliest face of Irish life, to grappling with the politics of working in a service that was the plaything of officials and politicians. His description of life in the prison service is not only a gripping account of humanity at its rawest, but also an invaluable primer for anyone in top level management.

Revealing, surprising and inspiring The Governor gives a unique insight into modern Ireland.


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My First Day in Prison
1 Early Life Lessons in Bansha
2 A Sense of Identity to Last a Lifetime
3 Learning the Ropes in Limerick Prison
4 A New Challenge in Dublin
5 An Inspirational Governor
6 Arriving in a Chaotic Mountjoy
7 Shaking up the Management of Mountjoy
15 Siege
16 Taking Women Prisoners out of a Hellhole
17 The Fragile Miracle of the Dóchas Centre
18 Who Are Our Prisoners?
19 Opening the Gates of Mountjoy to the Public
20 Drugs
21 Guiding Prisoners to a Better Life
22 Thornton Hall

8 The Prison Routine
9 Getting to Grips with Officialdom
10 Strike
11 Taking on Portlaoise Prison
12 A Staff in Dire Need of Support
13 The Subversive Prisoners
14 Returning to Mountjoy
23 The Politicians
24 A Service Going Backwards
25 My Last Day in Mountjoy

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About the author (2010)

John Lonergan retired as governor of Mountjoy Prison in June 2010 after 42 years working in the prison service. He lives in Dublin.

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