Political history is probably the last thing on my mind when it comes to vacation, but we certainly learned a lot about it during our time in Ireland.
Ireland is in fact a country with political struggles that run right up into the 1990s. Government of Northern Ireland is a point of contention with many locals and the British are not remembered well. With this in mind, Kilmainham Gaol is a fascinating place to visit, having held a number of Irish revolutionaries from the Easter Rising who all fought for the right to home rule.
Tours fill up very quickly at the gaol, so I’d advise arriving early (adults €6, students €2). Although we arrived just past 11, we were given a place on the 12:30 PM tour. Happily there was a museum inside with many artifacts and displays about the prisoners and the causes for which they fought. I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’m now much more interested in artifacts than reading plaques because information overload can occur quickly when you walk through too many museums in a year. Things on display included a set of dungeon keys, billets of prisoner rations, and watercolour paintings and journals by prisoners.
When the time came for our tour we were first moved to chapel and introduced to our tour guide. He took us through corridors of stone walls, metal grates and damp dark, and all I could really think of was the fact that long ago people had lived in these walls waiting to die for an intangible cause.
Our tour finished at the execution grounds, where men and women alike would be shot for their fight for Irish freedom. Though the sun shone bright, the group was silent.