Going to Jail

After the eventful sunday in Dublin, the Monday started much more relaxed.

At 10.30 am my host family, the boy’s cousin and I left home to drive to Kilmainham Gaol, where we arrived at 11.15 am. My host mother had booked a guided tour in advance, because they are always booked out for tours on the same day.

Our guided Tour was supposed to start at 11.30 am, so we walked around and read a bit of information about the building.

They startet building it in 1786 and it was opened in 1796 to replace the earlier prison.
The prisons before were usually disorderly places. All prisoners were held together and the conditions were unhealthy. After the prison reform movement (1727-1790) everything changed. Therefor Kilmainham Gaol has single cells and facilities for hygiene and health.

We also learned that the prison nowadays symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the Rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923.
Not only the leaders of the Rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were detained and some of them even executed, but also all the political prisoners were held in Kilmainham Gaol. The first political prisoner was Henry Joy McCracken.
However, as a county gaol, the political prisoners weren’t the only ones. Kilmainham Gaol held thousands of ordinary men, women and children.
It was also used to house those prisoners, who were sentenced to be sent to Australia. From 1800-1850 over 4000 prisoners were transported to Australia via Kilmainham Gaol.

As the time had arrived we started the tour. The first stop was the small Chapel. In there, they showed us a short slide show while the tour guide said some things.
For example did he told us that one of the leader of the Easter Rising, Joseph Plunkett married Grade Gifford in this Chapel the night before he was executed.


The Chapel of Kilmainham Gaol

The next part of the tour was the West Wing where we could see all the prison cells.
This part of the prison is quite dark and cold, you wouldn’t want to live here. But they had a big problem with overcrowding from 1800-1860, because many people committed crimes to gain entry to the gaol in hope to get food on a regular basis. With the overcrowding there were now up to five prisoners in a cell which was built for only one. Problems such as diseases and poor health and hygiene started to rise and that there was no full separation between adults and children or between the genders.
We were also told that there were a lot of children held in Kilmainham Gaol. The youngest has been only 11 years of age. Children who had to stay longer than two weeks even got school lessons.

Afterwards we went to see the prison cell of Charles Stewart Parnell. Because he was a rather rich prisoner, he had his own room which he was allowed to furnish and keep his own possessions. He was also allowed to interact freely with any visitor.

We then finally went to the East Wing. When I first entered it I was gobsmacked. The Room was so big and bright.
I said to my host father that I think the room looks awesome. He looked at me with a funny expression and said that it’s not supposed to look awesome, it’s a prison after all. But that’s the thing, it looks nothing like a prison.

The East Wing was built in 1861 and opened a year later. It reflects the very different ideas of the Victorian age. They believed that the prison architecture is crucial to reform the inmates.
The use of light was deliberate to inspire the inmates to turn better. The form, called Panopticon, allows the observation of all the 96 cells from one central viewing point.
Underneath are four cellar-level isolation cells, which were used for dark and solitary confinement. After the new East Wing was built only the male prisoners moved there, the female had to stay in the dark and cold cells in the West Wing.
The East Wing will still be used today, not as a prison, but as a concert/theatre hall, to use the great acoustic you have in there.

After the East Wing we went back outside to the activity yards. All inmates were allocated one hour of outdoor activity per day.
But they were separated for their exercises. The ones waiting for their transportation to Australia or for their execution shared a yard and the ones who has been sent to prison temporary, occupied the other one. The women were in a smaller yard nearby. The children were also nearby, but had their own separated small yard.

Going through a gate in the wall, we went to the probably cruelest place on the grounds of Kilmainham Gaol: the Stonebreakers’ Yard.

After 1910 Kilmainham gaol was closed as a prison to save money and were given to the military, the british army. So after the 1916 Easter Rising the british army opened it for hundreds of men and women, who were part of the rebellion.
The leaders of the Rising were sentenced to death and 14 men were executed by a firing squad in the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol between the 3rd and the 12th of May 1916. Seven of them were signatories of the proclamation. In the yard are two crosses, a name plate and the Irish flag to commemorate those who have been executed here.

During the War of Independence (1919-1921) the british government used the prison to hold members of the Irish Republican Army captured.
When the Civil War started in June 1922 Kilmainham Gaol was taken over by the Free State Army who detained and sentenced male and female political Republican prisoners. The Civil War ended in May 1923, but the last prisoner was not released until 1924.
Kilmainham Gaol was officially closed in 1924 to never be opened again as a prison by the Minister of Justice of the Irish Free State.

From the Stonebreakers’ Yard we went back inside through the main entrance. Above the door are five monstrous interwoven shapes. They have been called dragons, demons, serpents and a hydra. They should represent the five worst crimes: murder, rape, theft, treason and piracy.

The tour then ended and we took a look at the exhibition.
In 1960 the Restoration Committee was established and they restored Kilmainham Gaol so it could be reopened as a museum for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966. It was opened by Eamon de Valera, at that time the president of Ireland (1959-1973), but also the last prisoner of Kilmainham Gaol.
In the exhibition they showed the process of the restoration, but also artefacts of the time of the Easter Rising and the times before and after that event.


One of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic showcased in the Exhibition of Kilmainham Gaol

Around 12.30pm we left Kilmainham Gaol and went to a café/bistro across the street to have a little snack to satisfy our stomachs until we could stuff them with lunch at Nando’s one hour later. After Nando’s we went back home where I played with N. outside until D. and her husband (B.) asked me if I want to come with them to the beach to take Trixie for a walk.


My first Nando’s lunch!

At the beach B. and Trixie took the lead while D. and I followed, deep in conversation. The beach is really nice! Especially because it’s so close to the city centre.

When we came back at 5.30pm we had to get ready, because we would all go out for dinner at 6.15pm.
We once again drove to the beach, but this time a different part, as we went to Howth Harbour.
Some of us went for a walk through the harbour, while the others waited for our table.

We had dinner at Crabby Jo’s. After a bowl of spicy buffalo wings as a starter, I had Gambas Tempura & Chips for my main course. For dessert we had a 99.

After dinner the ‘children’ went for another walk. This time we actually went into the sea. Because it was low tide we could easily walk quite a distance through the now empty sea.

We were back home at 10pm and the boys went straight next door to D.’s house to sleep.
My host parents and I stayed downstairs in the living room with the grandparents for a bit. On the TV was a show on called ‘Rose of Tralee‘ which is a very famous irish TV show. But I’d learn much more about it the following days, when we actually went to Tralee.

That was my second day in Ireland!
Only four days left! 😦

Vicky xx


In Dublin’s fair city

I started my one day in Dublin’s city centre on O’Connell Street at around 11.15 am on a beautiful sunday morning.

The first thing on my schedule was to find a cash dispenser, because for the first time in three weeks I needed Euro again. After I finally got cash I went back to the first bus stop of the green Dublin Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Buses at Cathal Brugha Street (1.) and hopped on the bus standing there. To buy a ticket for 24 hours you have to pay 19€ or if you are a student you just have to pay 17€. You can buy the ticket directly from the driver.

Doing that I got to talk to the bus driver and he asked me where I’m from and was quite happy to learn that I’m from germany and welcomed me with a nice ‘Guten Tag!‘ on his bus.

Starting the tour he introduced himself as Kevin and welcomed everyone on the bus, but especially the german people, because he’s taken german lessons for quite a while and was happy to have an opportunity to finally put some of the knowledge to use.
So he told us that he can say three sentences in german:
– ‘Ich heiße Kevin.
– ‘Ich bin 33 Jahre alt.
– ‘Mein Deutsch ist schei*e!

While he was enchanting us with his german skills he drove on the O’Connell Street (2.), where we passed the GPO (General Post Office), The Spire and the statue of Daniel O’Connell. The O’Connell Street is the widest and most famous street Ireland’s. It’s also full of history as it has been the location for key turning points in the history of the state.

Crossing the River Liffey we drove further into the centre of Dublin. The next stop was on Nassau Street (3.) in front of the Trinity College. Just a few metres down the street was the next stop at the National Library & Museum (4.). Sadly I couldn’t visit all the Museums, because I had just this one day. The good thing is that most of the Museums and other exhibitions are admission free, especially if there is a ‘National’ in the name. So you can enjoy all that without any extra paying, if you have the time.

The next sight was the Merrion Square (5.) with a memorial sculpture of Oscar Wilde. The Square is the largest Georgian square in the city and is surrounded by original Georgian buildings. Across the street is the National Gallery which houses over 15,000 works of Irish art and was officially opened in 1864. The National History Museum & Leinster House (6.) came up next. The latter one is the seat of the Irish Parliament since 1922. Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the Senate) are the two houses of parliament in Leinste House.

St Stephan’s Green is the largest city square in Europe. Open to the public you can see lots of commemorative monuments to some of Ireland’s historical figures. St Stephan’s Green and the Little Museum of Dublin (7.) share the same stop. The Little Museum of Dublin is voted ‘Dublin’s best Museum experience’ by the Irish Times and offers an exclusive free tour for customers on the Dublin Bus Tour. From St. Stephan’s Green Kevin drove us past the Mansion House, which has been the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715, and St. Ann’s Church on Dawson Street.

Because of the street system the bus had to drive back to Trinity College and went around the park of Trinity College to bring us after a short stop on Pearse Street (7a.) onto Dame Street. On Dame Street the bus stopped for the Molly Malone statue (8.) and the Temple Bar district (9.), where we passed the Olympia Theatre. The multi-award-winning Irish musical drama Once is running there. We then passed Dublin Castle & City Hall (10.).

At the end of Dame Street we turned onto Patrick Street and passed Christ Church Cathedral (11.) for the first time.
On Patrick Street you can see St. Patrick’s Cathedral (12.) and Marsh’s Library. St Patrick’s Cathedral is The National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Community in Ireland and was built in 1192. Marsh’s Library was built in 1701 and became the first public library in Dublin.

After St. Patrick’s Cathedral Kevin made a small detour to Teeling Whiskey Distillery (12a.), which is the only operational distillery in Dublin city, and then brought us back to Christ Church Cathedral. From there he brought us directly to the Guinness Storehouse (13.) where he showed us around the whole area and even stopped in front of the famous black gate so we could take some pictures.

The next stop was the Irish Museum of Modern Art -IMMA (14.) and Kilmainham Gaol (15.). Before we could cross the river again we passed the biggest Public Transportation Station in Dublin: Heuston Station (16.). Back on the north side o the river it was now time for Phoenix Park (17.). It is the largest urban park in Europe. On the 1750 acres you can find the Dublin Zoo, the 62m high Wellington Monument and the home of the Irish president: Áras an Uachtaráin.

On our way to Old Jameson Distillery we passed the stops Ryan’s Victorian Bar (18.) and the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History (19.) and is housed in a formerly military barracks. After the Old Jameson Distillery (20.) we drove along the Liffey, past the Four Courts (21.), the Ha’Penny and the Millennium Bridge to the stop of the Dublin Discovered Cruise (22.).

Photo 21-08-2016, 12 50 06

The National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History

Finally we were back on the O’Connell Street (23.), turned at Dublin City Gallery & Writers Museum (24.) and then were back at the first stop at Cathal Brugha Street (1.).

During the whole Tour Kevin guided us through Dublin’s city with witty comments and interesting facts about Ireland. Though he would not only share facts and comments but also jokes, which were quite funny and when there was a longer drive between two stops he would even start singing!

While he started his third song I started sending voice messages to my mother so she could listen to his musical talent. She was so amused and enthused by him that she literally told me to stay on that bus until the end! But even if she wouldn’t have told me that, I would have stayed there because it was just such a great experience.
And I’m still happy that I recorded some of the songs because sometimes I just like to listen to them and be remembered of the good time.

Some of the songs he sang are well known as Molly Malone, The Wild Rover and With a littlehelp of my friends. But also some typical irish songs like Aon Focal Eile, The ABC Song and Seven Drunken Nights, which all sound like some songs the irish would sing after a bit of time in an irish pub.

At the end of the tour I was quite upset that it was already over, but I was also anxious to finally go through Dublin myself rather than on a bus.
Saying goodbye to Kevin I thanked him and told him to take a look on my blog, because I promised him I’ll write about this more than just great bus tour through Dublin.
So if you read this Kevin: Thanks again for the tour! I’ll always keep it in mind and if I’m going to be in Dublin again, I’ll make sure to visit you on your bus again!

After the two hour drive through Dublin I went into Carrols. If you’ve been to Ireland you know exactly what that means. For all the other ones: Carrols is a shop especially for Tourists. In these stores you’ll find everything you may think is irish, all the irish stereotypes are proved to be true. The bigger the store the more stuff they have – it’s a tourism wonderland.

Since my shopping spree wasted a lot of my time I was rather in a hurry afterwards and went to the GPO on O’Connell Street to buy a post stamp and to visit this historical building. It was here that the Proclamation of Independence was read in the 1916 Easter Rising. Because the Irish rebels fought against the british soldiers from inside the GPO, part of the building was destroyed. Today it is rebuild and still a post office, but also houses a museum and the GPO Witness History Visitor centre.

While I was still on the O’Connell Street, I also went to see the Spire of Dublin, or as it’s called in Dublin: the Spike. It’s location once was the location of another monument. The in 1808 built Nelson’s Pillar is named after the British hero Lord Nelson and was destroyed in 1966 by the Irish Republican Army Terrorist Organization, who were fighting British rule in Northern Ireland and didn’t want a British monument in Dublin. The 120m Spire of Dublin is the tallest sculpture and was built to celebrate the millennium, however it wasn’t finished until 2003.

Because of my 24 hour bus ticket I was able to get on another Dublin Tour bus and drive to Trinity College. It is Ireland’s oldest college, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. On Campus Grounds you can find the Trinity College Library, which holds the largest collection of manuscripts and printed books in Ireland. Under the Legal Deposit requirement of 1801, one copy of every published book must be sent to Trinity College Dublin. As a result the College Library now has a book stock of over six million books, manuscripts and maps.

Two of the greatest treasures of Trinity College Dublin is the Book of Kells and the Long Room in the College Library building. Arriving at the Library just a few minutes before they closed I was able to visit the exhibition of the Book of Kells and see the Long Room. Normally you would have wait in a 4 h+ queue to see the exhibition.

Around the year 800 Irish monks from the Island of Iona produced The Book of Kells, which is a lavishly decorated Gospel manuscript. The Book of Kells was sent to Dublin around 1653 for reasons of security during the Cromwellian period.

The Exhibition first shows images from that time and explains the Book of Kells. They also showed how it must have been made and other stuff from that time. Leaving that room I came in the room where The Book of Kells was exhibited in a showcase. I was told that they turn the pages of the book once every day, so you would have to visit the exhibiton every day for a year to see the whole book. The Book is pretty amazing and you can see how much work they must have put into making them.

The next part of the exhibition was the visit of the Long Room on the first floor of the old Library. It is nearly 65 metres long and houses around 200 000 of the Library’s oldest books. Marble busts are placed down either side of the room. (Just a few of them)

The Harp, which you can find on irish coins, is displayed in the middle of the room. It is the oldest to survive from Ireland, and probably dates from the 15th century. The Harp is constructed from oak and willow with bass strings and is an emblem of early, bardic society.
Right next to the door, through which you enter the Long Room, you can see one of the dozen or so remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Leaving the Exhibition I left the Trinity College behind and drove to Dublin’s City Hall. From there I walked to Christ Church Cathedral, which is one of Dublin’s most famous cathedrals and it is the original cathedral of Norse Dublin. Then I went straight back to Dublin Castle that is located slightly behind the City Hall. The British ruled Ireland from here until 1922.
But because I was short on time I just took some pictures from the outside.

Across the City Hall a road lead directly into Dublin’s Cultural quarter: Temple Bar. The earliest Dublin map to include Temple Bar is from 1673 and therefore it is one of the oldest parts of Dublin. I just took my time strolling around the pedestrianized streets. The atmosphere there is really great and dominated by all the restaurants, pubs, music venues and the people on the streets. Everyone in the streets seemed to be pulled in by the most famous pub, the Temple Bar. There is a theory that this unusual name comes from Sir William Temple, who lived in the area in the early 1600s.

Following the streets of Temple Bar, I reached the Ha’Penny Bridge. Which again is a quite unusual name. The original name of the Bridge, which has been built in 1816, was Wellington Bridge. In 1836 the name was changed to Liffey Bridge. However it is commonly called the Ha’Penny Bridge as a toll was charged on the Bridge up to March 1919.
The Ha’Penny Bridge is just one of many Bridges you can use to cross the 125 km River Liffey. However the Ha’Penny Bridge and the Millennium Bridge are two of the most famous ones.

The last thing on my Dublin Bucket list was to have a stroll around Dame and Grafton Street. The latter one being the premier shopping street in the capital. Going from Dame Street to Grafton Street I passed by the Molly Malone Statue and the St Andrews Church. The Statue is a reminder of the song of the same name. The statue has been constructed to celebrate the city’s first millennium in 1988. In Dublin the statue is commonly known as ‘The Tart with the Cart‘. The song is set in Dublin and tells the story about a fishmonger, who died young, of a fever. It is quite popular in Ireland and has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin city.

In Dublin’s fair city

Where the girls are so pretty,

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,

As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

“Alive, alive, oh,

Alive, alive, oh,”

Crying “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”.

She was a fishmonger,

But sure ’twas no wonder,

For so were her father and mother before,

And they wheeled their barrows,

Through the streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”


She died of a fever,

And no one could save her,

And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.

But her ghost wheels her barrow,

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”



Getting quite tired I decided to walk back to O’Connell Street to have a little break at Caffé Nero. I then used the break to write a postcard to a friend of mine. I chose to sent only her a postcard from Ireland, because back in 2013-2014 she’s been an Au Pair in Dublin and had sent me a postcard. She inspired me to be an Au Pair myself, so I thought it would be suitable to sent her a postcard from Dublin back.
After writing the postcard I put it in the post box, which was right outside the Caffé.

Photo 21-08-2016, 19 25 39

A little greeting from Ireland to one special Lady!

At 7.30 pm I finally decided to take the bus home. When I found the right bus stop (Bus stop 320: Westmoreland Street), I saw that I’d have to wait for 30 minutes. At 8 o’clock the bus arrived and I bought a ticket for 2,70€. When you want to buy a bus ticket in Ireland, you have to pay the right amount, because the won’t give you the change back.

After being out of the house for 9 3/4 hours, I was quite happy when I came back home at 8.45 pm.

I then spent the rest of the evening in the living room with the family we talked about the day we had. When I went to bed I fell asleep right away, because the day was just too exhausting.
I definitely have to go to Dublin again, then even though I saw a lot during that day, I didn’t even saw half of the things you have to visit in Dublin.

As I talked a lot about the Dublin Sightseeing Tour I was clearly thrilled with the tour and I can highly recommend them. If you’re interested you can take a look on their website http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie or just click here. Also I wrote down all the Bus stops of the tour for you. After the name of the bus stop you’ll find the number of the bus stop inside the parentheses and they are all marked in bold purple letters.
When you want to experience the same fun ride, make sure to hop on a ‘Live Commentary‘ bus and the chances that you’ll meet Kevin are way higher.

If you want to read more about my days in Ireland, please follow this blog and you’ll be one of the first to see the new posts.

Until then,
fheiceann tú arís

Vicky xx

All the information about the places are either from the Dublin Sightseein.ie Discount Map & Guide, A pictorial Guide to Trinity College Dublin or my own memory.

Whats the story?

Whats the story? – That’s irish slang for ‘What’s going on?’

So what has been going on for the last week.
With my host parents being irish, they still have lots of family over there so they decided to spent a week with them and I got so lucky to accompany them.

On Saturday, 20th August, at only 7am we started the long journey to Dublin. We drove for nearly 6 hours (with a ~45 minute break) until we arrived the Port of Holyhead. The plan was to take a ferry over to Dublin at around 2pm.
When we arrived we knew we had to wait for a bit until we could enter the ferry, but we never thought we had to wait even longer. Because of the bad weather the ferry before had to be cancelled and the one coming over from Dublin also had been cancelled.
Realizing that a lot of the cars in front of us had been waiting to get on the prior ferry , we started wondering how many cars can actually fit on a ferry.
With one hour delay we were finally able to enter the ferry and it seemed like every car fit on it.

The ferry started the journey to Dublin at 3.10 pm and it would take 3 1/2 hours to set over.
On the ferry there were several decks you could sit, a café, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Also you could go outside on the top deck to enjoy the fresh sea air and the view.
But because of the weather you couldn’t stay out there for long or you would get blown off the ferry.

Up on the deck I was able to catch the first glimpse of Ireland.

Photo 20-08-2016, 17 51 19

The first glimpse of Ireland

After we finally arrived in Dublin we had to drive for another 15-20 minutes until we arrived at my host fathers parents home.
While we were in the living room to rest a bit my host fathers sister (D.) and her family came over, who lives right next door.
His parents and his sister’s family are really lovely people and I’m happy that I got to meet them!

We then ordered some pizza for dinner, because we haven’t had a real lunch that day and were too tired to prepare dinner. After pizza the boys went next door to stay at D.’s home, while my host parents and I slept at the grandparents home.

They told us that we were quite lucky to be able to come over that day, because the ferry after ours also had been cancelled. The next ferry would have left the port at around 4 am during the night. Fortunatley we were in our beds at that time of the night.

The next morning I got up at around 8.30 am and had breakfast with the boys at around 10 am. After that my host parents told me the plan for the day.
I got so lucky and could spend the whole day in Dublin city, so they showed me where I had to get off the bus in the evening when I want to come home and also explained to me how the bus system works in Dublin.
After that my host father drove me into Dublin right on the O’Connell Street, where Dublin’s city centre starts.

If you want to know what happened next, you have to wait for my next blog post, where I’ll tell you all about my day in Dublin!

Stay tuned!

Vicky! xx