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Week 2- Sunday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 12, 2011 | No Comment |

Sunday morning I got up and walked to the rabbi’s house to get a list of kosher food in Ireland.  I took the bus from there to Kinlay House.  Then Kate, Ashley, Nico, and I walked to Kilmainham Gaol.  It’s a jail where a lot of Irish rebels and criminals were held as prisoners.  The conditions were quite terrible.  I took a lot of pictures.  The more important rebels actually had better conditions because they had more influential families.  But there was very little light, and often the prisoners were two and three to a cell because there were so many.  There were a lot of women who were poor and didn’t have any way of keeping themselves alive except through prostitution who ended up in the jail; the youngest inmate known was a five-year-old boy who was imprisoned for stealing a bit of chain.  If you could work, you could get sent to jail was the rule.

The inmates used to have a lot more solitary confinement and weren’t allowed to talk with one another, but when Lord ___ (I can’t remember his name, unfortunately) was put in charge, he received bribes from the English to let them know what the prisoners were saying, so he made new rules that would bring the prisoners in more contact with one another so that he could overhear them.  The wealthy, influential prisoners used to eat lunch in their rooms alone and they could even join together in one room or another to eat.  Lord _____ said that if they wanted to eat together, they had to eat in the hall where everyone could see (and where he could overhear them) and that they had to bring their chamber pots to the table with them, and if they needed to use the chamber pots during the meal, they had to do so at the table.  They also were required to wash their own dishes… in the chamber pots.

The newer wing of the jail was the panoptican, meaning the all-seeing eye, because the guards could see and hear everything in every cell very easily.  It was also called that because G-d could see you all the time—the Victorians believed jail should not just punish you, but reform you.

The jail closed soon after the Irish Civil War, and in 1960 there was talk of demolishing it, but prisoners and guards alike volunteered to restore the prison and worked to save it.  140 people were publicly hanged at the jail, many others were executed by firing squad, and thousands more died because of the terrible conditions they lived in—poor food, feces, vomit, wind and cold, and walls made of limestone that took in water and rotted.

In 1960, the empty prison was falling apart and there was talk of tearing it down.  But prisoners and prison guards alike returned to save the jail and volunteered to clean it up and restore the building.  Much of the funds for repairing the building now come from allowing movies to shoot scenes at Kilmainham Gaol.

More info on the jail here.

After the jail, Nico and I went on to the Dublin zoo (Ash and Kate opted to eat instead).  I’ve always wanted to visit a zoo and a prison in the same day, and now I can finallyIt turned into a nice day at this point (the weather is really changeable here– it’ll be really sunny, and then half an hour later turn cloudy, and then half an hour later rainy, and then half an hour later sunny again), and we enjoyed looking at the different animals.  It wasn’t all that different from any American zoo– I wouldn’t say if you were going to Dublin that you have to see the zoo– but it was in the area and it was very nicely landscaped.  And Nico is Romanian, so I don’t think she had seen as nice a zoo before.  We got there sort of late in the afternoon, though, so we didn’t get to see everything before they kicked us out.  But then we sat for a bit in Phoenix Park, which was really pretty, and on the way back we walked through a very pretty garden and took pictures (I have a ton– I will post them one of these days!)

After we got back, I went to the store and bought bread, which is a welcome addition to my diet, as well as Nutella (delicious) and Nature Valley Bars (that have an OU on them!  So exciting!) and canned corn.  Then I worked on these blogs, because even though I couldn’t post them when the server was down, I was able to write them in Word and save them to post later.

I miss you all so so much, and I’m thinking about all of you.  Mazel tov to Yael and Eran on their new baby girl!

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