Kilmainham Gaol

6 Nov

This past weekend I visited Kilmainham Gaol, which is a now unused prison in Dublin. It took a group of volunteers to restore the prison and turn it into a museum. I think they started working on it in the 1980s and are still doing work today. The prison is famous because it was where many of the Irish Rebellion Leaders were held after the Easter Rising. They did a lot of executions at this prison, including 14 hangings. Some of the rebellion leaders that were executed were Padraig Pearce (leader of the Rising) and his brother William, James Connolly, Eamon Ceannt and Sean McDermott. These men were hung in May 1916. The tour guide took us to the exact spot were these people were hung, which gave me an eerie feeling. I found the tour to be very interesting because I actually got to go into the cells that the prisoners were held in. There were 2 different wings, 1 for women and children and 1 for the men.  The main cell area is Victorian style, 3 stories tall! There were catwalks that connected the halls on either side of the oval shaped room. The room was really impressive architecturally, even though it was a gaol. Apparently concerts have been held in this area, strange since people suffered there and now people are using the space for leisure activities.  A lot of the prisoners died in the prison due to disease. They had to sleep on a small pile of hay and they were given only a bucket to go to the bathroom in. Apparently the sewage would overflow and people would be literally laying in their own excrement. It was strange walking around because I just got this feeling that the diseases were all still there although you could tell the space has been thoroughly cleansed. The Gaol was a very cool and education experience. I was able to further my understanding of Ireland’s somewhat brutal history. 

Ebby Szczerbinski 06/11/13

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