Ireland Reflections 2020 – Dublin – Going to Jail & Guinness

As lots of good Sundays do, our Sunday morning in Dublin began with a drive. The group rode through Dublin’s Phoenix Park with the opportunity to view Áras an Uachtaráin – the President’s home–which was quite lovely.   And then we went to visit the historic Kilmainham Goal.

Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, IrelandKilmainham Gaol is a prison in Dublin that operated from 1796 to 1924.  Austin Malinowski recalls that “once inside the walls, the beautifully constructed building changed into a cold harsh place that was no doubt meant to house prisoners. The building was freezing cold and consisted of brick and metal. The cells were small, as were the entryways (watch your head!)” He remarked “there was a clear focus on pounding the fear of God into these men, which is reflective of the Irish ties to Catholicism and Christianity in general. Faith seemed to be the focus even ahead of punishment, which was unusual to see for an American.” As we walked the halls of the prison, we were reminded of the people who made Ireland what it is today. Austin noted seeing “the cells of people like Countess Markievicz and Eamon de Valera, and I truly felt a sense of pride to be surrounded by the ghosts of these revolutionaries.”

Student Jordyn Janikowski remarked that “in addition to many well-known political prisoners, the prison housed numerous average men, women, and children whose crimes ranged from theft to murder. Although it initially seemed obvious that all of the convicts that went to Kilmainham deserved to serve time for their crimes, some of the stories shed a different light on the prisoners.” She added that throughout the tour, “we heard stories of young children who were jailed for stealing food during times of famine, political prisoners who were brutally executed, and prisoners who had to perform hard labor for hours on end.” Jordyn was left with the lasting impression that “the tour of Kilmainham Gaol served as a reminder that all individuals, even prisoners, deserve basic human rights.”

Our day ended on a lighter note with the much-anticipated visit to the Guinness Storehouse. As a group from Milwaukee, we are quite familiar with a brewery or two, so we were right at home with this quintessential Irish visit!

The first part of the tour introduced everyone to the four ingredients used in Guinness: water, barley, hops, and yeast. We quickly learned the actual color of Guinness is Ruby Red. The beer gets it red color as a result of the way the malted barley is roasted during the beer’s preparation. The second part of the tour highlighted the history of Guinness. Of note to our crew of law students, Guinness began in Dublin in the 1750s, when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year ground lease. (We were very impressed with the foresight!)

A piece of art depicting a fish on a bicycleSadie Zurfluh noted that “the company had a robust marketing department. Many of the ads followed the climate at the time they came out. The Guinness ‘animals’ that were created, the most notable being the toucan, were a product of the great depression and wanting to inject the local economy with a willingness to still go out and have a pint.” A personal favorite for her – and many others – was “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

A glass of beerNo trip to Guinness is complete without a visit to the Gravity Bar. 3L Josh Bernstein learned at the end of the tour that Guinness actually brews several types of beer, in addition to their Guinness draft. He later remarked “Guinness is as Irish as it comes and is interwoven into the history of Dublin, and Ireland itself.  It was particularly interesting to notice the importance beer culture plays in Dublin and how similar it is to Wisconsin beer culture.”

With full stomachs and half the gift shop in tow(!), we departed for Belfast.

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