1200 YEARS OF IR­ISH HISTORY IN ONE DAY

SHE Canada - - CONTRIBUTORS - By Ameena Iqbal & Aly Zorn

It was so quiet that the sound of the me­tal door be­ing un­locked echoed through the room like an un­ex­pected rum­ble of thun­der. The rusted hinges creaked like a slow, fright­ened squeal cut short by over­whelm­ing fear. Our feet shuf­fled softly against the bare floor as we slowly made our way through the nar­row halls.

We were fol­low­ing our tour guide through the de­serted rooms of Kil­main­ham Gaol, Dublin’s in­fa­mous 18th cen­tury prison. Her voice echoed against the cold stone walls as she told us haunting sto­ries of those who had been im­pris­oned and ex­e­cuted here. Lead­ers of the re­bel­lions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were all de­tained at Kil­main­ham Gaol. Out­side in the court­yard, a cross marked the spot where sev­eral of them were ex­e­cuted. Through­out the tour ev­ery­one was silent, and I couldn’t tell whether the chill run­ning down my spine was be­cause of the tem­per­a­ture or the eerie at­mos­phere. The still­ness in the build­ing, the stark rooms and empty prison cells made it seem like no one ever in­hab­ited this place, but the names carved by pris­on­ers into door frames were a sud­den re­minder that many spent years of their life here in cold, dark soli­tude.

A tour of the Kil­main­ham Gaol is a riv­et­ing glimpse into the pro­found history of Dublin, a city that’s steeped in history. From the del­i­cate beauty of the cal­li­graphic art of the Colum­banus times, the dark tales of the Ir­ish Re­bel­lion, to the mag­nif­i­cent ar­chi­tec­ture and gas­tron­omy that is present to­day, Dublin is a com­pact city full of ex­pe­ri­ences that will send you trav­el­ling through time. way to Marsh’s li­brary. Tucked into a quaint nook of a tiny street, Marsh’s li­brary is a beau­ti­fully pre­served col­lec­tion of books dat­ing back to the late Re­nais­sance and early En­light­en­ment pe­ri­ods. It was the first public li­brary in Ire­land when it opened in 1707. The build­ing still boasts all the orig­i­nal fur­nish­ings like the carved and let­tered Ir­ish oak shelves, seat­ing, and three fur­nished read­ing al­coves.

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