Kilmainham Gaol

17 Apr


                Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison located in Dublin. Today it stands as a museum that is run by the office of public works since the mid 1980’s. The kilmainham Gaol played a huge part in Irish history since many of the leaders of the Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the prison by the British and in 1923 by the Irish Free State. Taking a tour of Kilmainhal Gaol is surreal. The cold damp air flows through the prison just as it had very long ago.  One can see the cells in which men, woman and children were held in the most awful of conditions.

                Kilmainham Gaol was first built in 1796, there was no segregation of prisoners, men, woman, and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell. The prisoners were given with a single candle for light and heat; most of their time was spent in the cold and the dark. When the prisoners were put into the cells the first thing they were given was a bible. The candle that was given to them was a 4 inch candle that had to last the prisoner for two weeks. That means that the candle could only be lit for about ten minutes a night. There were no toilets to be found in the cells. The tour guide said that it is suspected they had to use a bucket. Afraid of disease running through the prison there was no glass on the windows. They believed that the circulation of air would prevent disease from dispersing throughout the prison; which we now know is untrue. I found it astonishing that children were sometimes being arrested for petty theft. That’s absurd. It was even crazier when I learned that the youngest said to be a five year old child!  Children, men, and women held in the same cell together all for committing different levels of severity in crimes is completely unethical. However as years passed thankfully conditions changed although it could be seen as very little improvement.




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