By Ryan Gilbert
The Kilmainham Gaol Prison is a staple of Irish history. Murderers and thieves have passed through its gates, but the poor, hungry, and desperate have been trapped in it’s stone walls as well for just trying to survive. The old gulag is now a museum, but the stories of mistreatment and despair have never left its cold interior. Stories like that of J.B Fischer, who at only 18 years old was executed for possessing an illegal firearm, and just wanted to see his mother one last time before he was to be killed by firing squad. So what do these stories and this building say about the people of Ireland? To answer that we have to go back to Irish/British History.
The Irish have had a long history of mistreatment under English rule. Unfair systems of government have led to events like the famous potato famine in 1845, which killed millions and made millions more flee from there homeland. The Irish had grown sick of in and staged multiple revolts against the British to establish their own government. The Kilmainham Prison is where these political prisoners were kept before they were executed.
The history of this country is so closely connected to the history of this building and as stands atop gallows hill it reminds the Irish everyday of who they are and what they are made of. Although this building has a history of brutal living conditions, child imprisonment, and death, it also has a history of proud patriots who were willing to die for their country and the Irish way of life.
The Kilmainham Gaol has housed Irish perpetrators, and even Irish Presidents. But now as a museum it is a reminder of Irish pride, independence, and history. Even as a foreigner I feel proud to know more about this great country and the people that live here.