I walk through the corridors of Kilmainham Gaol. Windows at the ends provide my only light, the air is cold and damp. Spots of the light green, almost yellow painting seems to have flaked off long ago, the same with the brown color on the doors.
At the top of each door, it’s a little window, when I look in I can see most of the cell behind. The cell where Patrick Pearse spent the last days of his life.
As one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, he knew he was waiting for his execution when he sat behind the walls of the prison. What he didn’t know, was that his brother, William Pearse, would follow him in his death. He was only a minor player in the struggle, and Patrick was sure that he would be released, that his younger brother would be able to take care of their mother when he himself was gone.
When walking the corridors, I can feel the history of Patrick and William, blended with the history of them who lived in the cells long before the Easter Rising.
The women and their children, who had to steal slices of bread to survive after the famines in the 18th and 19th Century. At that time, stealing bread meant prison.
When I walk in the courtyard, it’s almost like I can hear the sound of the children playing, the sound of children throwing snowballs at each other. But when they did, they were punished.
It was not allowed to have a good time behind the walls of Kilmainham Gaol.
(The picture is from my walk in the prison on Saturday. For other people’s opinion about the guided tour, click here.)