We pulled out of Dublin after we stopped for a tour of Kilmainham Gaol. Because this year is the centennial of the 1916 Rising, there is great interest in this tour since this prison is where the leaders were executed. Irish history is complicated, but as we keep traveling around and hearing the stories from different perspectives, it is beginning to stick.
On the Gaol tour we learned about the marriage of Joseph Plunkett to Grace Gifford; later in the evening we heard a ballad called Grace which tells the story in a poignant way. They were married hours before he was executed; she was later imprisoned in 1923 for her further political activities. We saw the cell of Eamon deValera, the anti treaty advocate who was with Michael Collins before he was against him.
Our first hotel in Dublin was the Charles Stewart on Parnell Square; in the Gaol we saw the room where he was imprisoned and learned more about how he had worked for Irish land rights before he was done in by the scandal caused by his relationship with a married woman.
At Glasnevin Cemetery we had seen the grave of Countess Markievicz; in the prison museum I saw her picture and learned that she had been Minister for Labor from 1919 until 1922. Also at Glasnevin we saw a presentation of Pearse's speech; it was in honor of O'Donovan Rossa. Pearse's said, "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."
We learned more about Michael Collins and Eamon deValera; evidently there has been a movie out (Collins) which we haven't seen yet but need to upon our return.
The quotation from Yeats which I keep seeing is from "Easter, 1916": All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."
The prison itself has been restored by volunteers after falling into disrepair; it shows how the philosophy behind prisons also changed. The oldest part is crowded and dark; the room where Parnell was kept is spacious. The courtyard covered by a glass roof shows that conditions improved for prisoners while at the same time becoming "panoptic"; in other words, the configuration allowed the guards to see all the cells and prisoners at once.
I saw a quotation from George Bernard Shaw that was to the effect that if the slums are worse than the prisons, then the jails will be full. I intend to look it up because he said it much better than that, but it does make sense. I have heard the same sentiment o "three hots and a cot."