Friday, June 25, 2010

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol, the Dublin prison that was open from 1796-1923 sits up on a small hill overlooking the city. It was built to replace the dungeon that was located next to the site. If that doesn't put things into perspective, I don't know what will. Although it was built to be more humane than the dungeons of the day, you could still feel its purpose.

Again, mesmerized by an entrance, I had no idea what I would learn about this spot at the very end of our tour. Five snakes in chains.

There were women and children also imprisoned in these walls. Many would commit small crimes in order to get imprisoned. Here they would at least be sure of one meal a day and have a roof over their heads. There was one cell per person which was unheard of at the time. The youngest "prisoner" was said to be a seven-year old boy while many of its prisoners were deported to Australia. That part was new to me.

It was built with windows for light and circulation; but in damp Ireland, I don't know if that was the best of ideas. The day we went was a cool day and you could still feel and smell the damp, stagnant air about you.

There were public hangings until 1865.

Here is the front entrance I was so fascinated with. Right where the balcony is now, prisoners would be hung for the public to witness.

The cell doors were amazing. Thick and heavy with so many layers of paint.

They were eerily beautiful to me. These steely teal blues kept showing up throughout. I wondered if they were true to the original colors?

The corridors, with their arched ceilings and windows were amazing.

The Victorian ironwork in parts of the old jail were beautiful.

The newest addition, the Victorian wing, was quiet large, open and light filled.

The cells were larger and less damp here.

And the inmates would carve their names (or whatever) above their door.

I loved the old iron spiral staircase.

Lastly, we were lead outside to a small courtyard.

The cross marks the spot where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were blindfolded and executed at point-blank range.

The plaque lists the men who were executed here. One man, James Connolly, was unable to stand due to injuries from the Rising; so he was wheeled out and put in a chair where he was then executed. Bloody stuff.

Amazing history here. I would highly recommend a tour if you're ever in Dublin.

On to Brussels next.

7 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a terrifying and haunting place!

Cheers,

Rosa

Jeanie said...

What an incredible photo essay. There is something eerie about a prison -- the ghosts of those who lived within the walls. I thought Alcatraz was fascinating, but this I think is even more so -- so many more years of sad stories. The part about people trying to get so they could get one meal a day is heartbreaking.

Beth said...

Just read all of your European Vacation posts! I saw a few of your pics on FB too. Looks like you really had a great time. Loved all the pics of the places you visited and all the food you got to try. Wonderful. Glad you had such a great time!
Hope to see you soon!
xoxoxox

PEA said...

Hello my dear friend!! Finally here to get caught up with your latest posts, I know I'm in for a treat:-) I haven't had much time for visiting blogs lately, but it's cool and raining today so a perfect day to get caught up!

I can't even imagine being held in that Gaol but then if it was a choice of the gaol or the dungeon, then I would choose the gaol! lol It must have been so fascinating to visit it and learning of the history behind it. I'm always interested in stuff like this. Sad to think of women and children being held there, though, but as you say, at least they knew they would have a meal and a roof over their head. I wonder if they've ever had ghost investigators there, imagine all the spirits that could be hanging around yet! hehe xoxox

Pretty Things said...

How interesting! This sort of tour is JUST up my alley.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Just stopping by to say HELLO and wish you and your family a very happy 4th.

Looks like you had a great time in Ireland and got alot of good education.
Hugs,
Betsy

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Just stopping by to say HELLO and wish you and your family a very happy 4th.

Looks like you had a great time in Ireland and got alot of good education.
Hugs,
Betsy

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