Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham has become a standard stop on the Dublin tourist trail and one of the city's top recommendations. So, of course, it was on our list. It was well worth the visit.

Our tour guide did a nice job of describing the history of the 18th century prison. It was built at a time when prison reform was leading to more progressive designs and management - including things as simple as more separation of prisoners and more light - But it must still have been a horrible and often over-crowded place, particularly in the mid-1800's when the famine drove many people to prison simply to find a meal.

The prison's main fame today is that it is where the British executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rebellion. 100 years isn't really that long ago and I think part of the poignancy of the story - of the prison and maybe of modern Ireland in general - is that the violent history still seems near. Of course, in Northern Ireland, it is much closer.

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