CORK CITY GAOL
Picked up a sentence in Sunday's Well at the weekend and had to spend some time in the Cork City Gaol; even had to pay to get in!
But it was all very enjoyable as this long standing attraction is well worth a visit and I hadn’t been in a long time. The buildings themselves are quite impressive and so is the story of the institution which, after years of planning (plus ça change...), opened in 1824 and operated until 1923.
Lifelike (wax) figures are dotted throughout the landings and the cells and one of the good things about the tour is that visit is concentrated on a few named individuals. True, it had some famous prisoners (such as Countess Markievicz) but you will hear mainly of the petty thief, the prostitute, the drunkard, the kid and the chancher.
You take the tour with the aid of an audio guide which is really excellent despite the fact that it keeps mentioning a yellow button which it does not possess. The tours are in 12 different languages and that has to be a huge plus. Well done to all concerned here.
The staff are young and efficient but I thought they could be a bit more outgoing in greeting people, just a little of the usual smiling Cork confidence wouldn't go astray here. After all, today’s visitors haven't been sentenced.
By the way, my inmate number was 228784 and, after reading the harrowing account of the first hanging outside the gaol in 1828, I didn't linger too long and made good my escape. But not before I handed back by audio set!