Kilmainham Gaol and Tea Rooms

On our last day in Dublin before heading south, R decided to go for a stroll in the park rather than join me on a tour of Kilmainham Gaol. Why anyone would choose to spend a mild afternoon outdoors instead of in a dank prison is beyond me. The entrance looked so welcoming!

Inside the portal, further hospitality is offered:

Fancy a cup of tea? I know the most charming, cozy place! I could stay there all day, or until I am executed.

I guess it’s appropriate that visits to the jail are strictly scheduled and controlled. As guided tours go, this one wasn’t bad, although I could have done without the running theme of jailhouse romance: a disproportionate amount of time was spent discussing the marriage of Joseph Plunkett to Grace Gifford and the ten minutes they had together between the wedding and Plunkett’s execution. While we milled around the chapel where the Plunketts were wed, a filthy pigeon miraculous dove flew in the window and landed by the altar.

The oldest parts of the building are predictably grim, but showing my crass disregard for historical suffering and martyrdom I will admit I found the panopticon wing very pretty.

There are various bits of graffiti scattered around and the tour guide kept referring to them as “original,” although I’m not sure exactly what the word means in this context, and I’m sure there has been some selective retouching during the museumification of the building. Some messages are as expected:

Others are a bit more sardonic.

The wedding tea will be held at the Carndonagh Hotel, with cakes and sandwichs.


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