Posted by: loveleigh | July 1, 2009

Reflection of Kilmainham Jail

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Our field trip to the Kilmainham Jail in Dublin has been my favorite historical site so far. I was able to get a better handle on Irish history and also relate some of it back to what we have been talking about in class. I’m really glad I got the chance to research it before we visited because our tour guide Rourie added in personal stories that I wasn’t able to find in my research. Being at this jail that played such an important role in the Irish independence was really intense. I got to see for myself exactly where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were held. I was also touched by all the personal stories Rourie told us, like the story of the brothers William and Patrick Pearce. By hearing these stories I got a better sense of how these men became martyrs and how they played a huge role in the Irish independence movement.

In my groups presentation we touched a little bit on social control, but it was hard to understand how by just looking at pictures. Being at the jail and seeing where the prisoners where held, I got a better understanding of how the guards exerted social control over the inmates. The room was an oval shape with cells lined along the walls. Prisoners could only see out the front of the cell and could never know if they were being watched by the guards or not. Also food was used as a form of social control. The solitary confinement cells were down below in the basement which is also where the kitchen was and these prisoners had to smell the hot meals knowing that they only get 1 portion of bread and water a day. To know Anne Devlin, the housekeeper of Robert Emmet was kept down in one of those cells for 2 years is so sad. But it is also honorable that Anne resisted their social control by never giving up any information. I also found it fascinating that in the early years of the jail, hangings were done over the front door of the jail so the public could see. This is another type of social control because having the public witness executions discourages them from breaking the law.

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