Third year history students took part in an interesting and engaging field trip to Kilmainham Gaol and Collins Barracks in October. Visiting the gaol, built just before the 1798 Rebellion and learning all about the various inmates who called Kilmainham home, we were brought around by excellent guides – Mick and Dave.

Along the way, the students found innovative methods of taking notes

Peephole view into Grace Plunkett (nee Gifford)’s cell during the Civil War.

As we travelled around the gaol, we had opportunities to look into the cells of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising and hear the poignant stories  – such as Joseph Mary Plunkett’s wedding to Grace Gifford just hours before his execution, James Connolly’s ambulance journey to the Breaker’s Yard, the overcrowded cells during the Famine and the one hour’s daily exercise afforded to child inmates. It was a memorable and atmospheric visit.

Graffiti in the Gaol, taken from Patrick Pearse’s poem ‘The Rebel’

Later, the students took self-guided and guided tours of Collins Barracks, just across the Liffey from the Gaol.

There, the students visited some of the exhibitions, examining artefacts such as the Stokes Tapestry. Some students even got a bit of target practice in, honing their rifle skills, at the Barracks, while other students met an Irish soldier writing home from the American Civil War

In the section devoted to the 1916 Rising, students could explore primary sources, which gave them new insights – into the varied age range and political perspectives – of the participants.

All in all, a stimulating and memorable experience.

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