I’d Try To Escape!


Kilmainham Gaol was infamous for the execution of many Easter Rising rebellion leaders back in the early 1900s, and it’s now famous as a movie set for films such as In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins.


From the outside it is an unassuming yet austere building,


and across the street is a row of swanky new construction with an interesting sculpture:


As soon as I step inside, however, I know nothing good ever happened here. It reeks of suffering.


As with several museums in Dublin, you are required to take a guided tour of the prison’s grounds. We start in the jail’s chapel,


and the plaque below bears witness to a quick wedding that took place here on May 3, 1916 between Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford. A journalist, Plunkett was one of the original members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood Military Committee. He took a stand with his peers at the General Post Office (that I showed you a few blogs ago) days after having had surgery. At the ripe young age of 28, he was court martialed and sentenced to death by firing squad after the failed Easter Rising. Just hours before execution, he married Gifford in this chapel. Rumors are that she stood outside the prison gate for hours until she heard the shots that stole her husband’s life. Gifford was a cartoonist and also a prisoner at Kilmainham in 1923 for a few months.


Kilmainham was a co-ed prison and children as young as 7 or 8 were also held here, mostly for crimes like petty theft.


The 14 leaders of the Easter Rising who were executed here became martyrs in their own rights…


Padraig Pearce, the commander, was executed first.  James Connolly was the last to die.  A white cross was marked over each man’s heart as a target for the firing squad. Connolly’s execution was particularly brutal as he had to be carried across the yard. Suffering from gangrene as a result of an injury from the Easter Rising and unable to walk, he was tied to a chair and then shot. It could be said that his controversial execution galvanized more public support for their cause.

These next pictures are from the main Victorian Wing of the prison:


Out in Stonebreaker’s Yard the guide mentions that there was at least one successful escape, aided by the guards…


This is about as close as I ever want to get to incarceration…


and you bet I’d try to escape!


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