Leaders of the Easter Rising are what led to what is now the Republic of Ireland. Each of the fourteen lead rebels of the rebellion were publicly executed at Kilmainham Gaol, which leaves the jail at the center of Irish history and brutality. Had the leaders of 1916 been allowed to live, Irish history might have taken a different course. This deep rooted history of violence and struggle for freedom aroused my curiosity and thirst for more knowledge. A tour of the gaol gave me an even deeper insight into the harsh conditions in which men, women, and children were subjected to while imprisoned there. It is a sombre, even chilling, place to visit, but absolutely fascinating.
The jail provides awareness to the more recent Irish history and the struggles for independence.
The courtyard at the end is a powerful reminder of how fortunate we are to be free. It is in the Stonebreakers’ Yard that fourteen leaders of the Easter Rising were publicly shot and killed. Among them, James Connolly, who had been wounded and could not stand, had to be tied to a chair to support him during his execution. He was held at Dublin Castle and transferred to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham where he was kept alive long enough to join the others in a public execution.
The Rising and their deaths marked a turning point in Irish history.
When I stood in the execution area, I couldn’t help but feel distraught about the Irish struggles in their fight for independence, but the blood of these martyrs made Kilmainham Gaol hallowed ground to the Republic of Ireland.
There is a heavy emphasis during the tour on putting the jail into historic context and I left with a much deeper understanding of the often complex forces which shaped the Irish nation.