Dublin in a Day
So we tried to see Dublin in a Day – with moderate success. The objective was to reach as many of the points on our scavenger hunt that we could, and my team decided to use the hop-on, hop-off city bus tour to get us from point A to point B the fastest.
We saw the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum, which is a replica of a ship that took passengers from Ireland to Canada and the United States during the years of the famine. The ship has the honor of never having someone die aboard, which is particularly impressive given the track record of some of the other ships who made the same crossing. They managed this feat by insisting passengers get fresh air every day, washed their bedding once a week, and by keeping a good doctor aboard. It was a wonderful tour, besides the slightly creepy wax figures meant to represent various passengers that would have been aboard.
We also saw Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, the General Post Office Building, The Old Parliament Building, the Garden of remembrance, the Wolfe Tone memorial in St. Stephen’s Green, the Daniel O’Connell memorial, and Aras an Uachtarain (the house of the president).
In addition to all of those we saw Kilmainham Gaol. This is a jail, that though its history held many famous individuals and has deep meaning for Ireland’s political history. It was considered to be a reform prison for much of its existence, meaning the goal was to change law breakers into law-abiding citizens. And while there were some good things that happened as a result of this distinction, efforts to segregate the genders (to protect the women from sexual exploitation), there were also some bad ones. For example, each cell door was equipped with a peep hole so that any time, day or night, prison guards could watch the prisoners to ensure their good behavior. The psychological effect of this constant watch is said to have been significant. The Irish Famine also had a great impact on the prison, causing conditions of over crowding and the spread of disease. The prison records show us one of the many social implications of the famine – prostitution. In the year prior to the start of the famine there were two recorded prostitutes that were imprisoned, in the years following the famine it sometimes got as high as 250. According to our tour guide, in the years during and directly following the famine, Dublin developed a huge red light district with some estimates of over two thousand girls working there.
The city of Dublin is busier than Belfast, and has an entirely different feel. Fortunately, I will be returning to Dublin towards the middle of this month because there were many things that I did not get a chance to see.