This is a photo of me in one of the cells in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland, April 1, 2006. After the photo was taken, I was standing in front of the door trying to open it. There was a moment of perfect fear. What if I couldn't get out! The ghosts of those who did not get out were thick as cobwebs in this place.
While we were riding around Dublin on the hop on hop off double-decker busses, the tour guide was sitting right in front of us pointing out the sites. She told us we really should go to see Kilmainham. It would not be pleasant or flashy. When you come out you will be chilled to the bone. But you will be a better person for it.
We nodded politely and wished we would have the time, but we were going back to Derry the next day, Sunday because Amelia needed to get to work on Monday morning.
Sunday morning came, we gathered our belongings and went to the bus station across the street from Isaacs Hostel where we had stayed two nights. We had a room with four bunk beds by ourselves, clean and safe enough.
Our arrival at the bus station was met with NO SERVICE notices to Belfast, Derry and all points in Northern Ireland. There was a transportation strike in the UK. A look at the news on TV back at the common room in Isaacs confirmed that. So a few phone calls were made and e-mails sent (1 Euro for 4 minutes on the internet)to let people know of our delay.
Since we had at least another day in Dublin we discussed what to do. Kilmainham was the consensus. Now how to get there. The Gaol is on the side of town where Phoenix Park is located, several miles from Isaacs Hostel. The city bus station was not too far, we walked there and got tickets and directions to the Gaol.
Kilmainham Gaol (Dublin)is no longer used to house prisoners. Tours are given to the public.
Children as young as eight years old were put into the prison, usually for theft of food or clothing. It is a cold dark place that was often so crowded that 14-15 people were crammed into a cell. At times they were also placed in the hallways.
During the famine many were placed in Kilmainham, Richmond bridewell and Newcastle gaols to await transportation to penal colonies in Australia, Africa and Tasmania. Charges of sedition were common. When tenant's criticized landlords Kilmainham could easily been their fate.