Because not everything in life is rainy sunshine and roses, I took a trip to the darker side of Ireland’s past, and visited the Kilmainham Gaol today. A breath of cheery fresh air prior to delving into its sordid depths came in the way of the lovely LimeTree Café across the street. From there, it just got downright depressing.
Our mandatory tour guide was quite good (that means really good where I come from), going out of her way to remind us not to get separated from the group, as if anyone would want to stay behind for the craic and luxe accommodations. Sweet jayzus!
I did manage to learn a lot about the Easter Rising, and the characters after whom so many Irish streets are named, many of whom were executed at this very place. And also how children had been incarcerated as young as 5 years old for stealing or begging for food, and treated the same as the rest of the inmates, who were about half female. I think this is taking equality a little too far… Part of the ‘reform’ of the gaols in the early 1900’s recognized the value of sunlight for the inmates. What about the rest of Ireland – they deserve some, too?
An interesting note was the stark contrast between the older part of the gaol (the East wing), and the newer part (The West wing, with no sign of Rob Lowe anywhere), which got the fancy skylight. Other than that, I’d say both parts have an awful lot in common – cramped, cold, damp quarters with crappy food and an extra dose of hopelessness. Except for the rich guy who got his own office and visitors and food brought in. The museum part of the Gaol is also worth browsing, particularly the political section upstairs.
In other news, I managed to whittle my luggage down even further from three to just two carry-ons. The security guy was suitably impressed when he checked inside at how much I had managed to cram into my backpack. I was not so impressed at having to put it back together after the rifling, but what can you do.
Bonus Unrelated Travel Tidbit (a BUTT): A little known secret is that Heathrow likes to welcome its passengers with a free upper body workout by purposefully jamming at least one wheel on every single trolley, sending vibrations straight up your arms. Untoned jiggly underarms must be offensive to the royals or something. What other reason could there possibly be?!?!!?