On a dull, grey January afternoon where better to find some inspiration for Thursday Doors than from a prison? Cork City Gaol, to be exact. These shots are of the outside of what is now a museum and heritage centre. Next week I’ll post the ones I took of the inside. There were so many interesting exhibits (the building also houses a radio museum) that it will take three posts to cover everything.
Cork City Gaol opened in 1824, replacing the old prison at Northgate Bridge, which was overcrowded and unhygienic. Sir Thomas Deane won the contract to design and build the castle-like structure. He was also involved in the design of the original buildings for University College Cork. The reason the site at Sunday’s Well at the edge of the City was chosen for the new prison was because it’s on a hill and would allow plenty of fresh air to circulate, in the hopes of lessening, or at least containing, the bouts of ‘gaol fever’ that was the bane of the old prison.
This model of the prison gives you a good idea of the layout. The smaller building standing apart represents the Debtor’s Gaol, where the wealthy who had fallen on hard times were incarcerated when unable to pay their debts. There was definitely a big difference between the living conditions in the two prisons. Those in Debtor’s Gaol wore their own clothes, used their own furniture and had their food delivered to them – none of that prison gruel for them. If they could talk a family member into swapping places with them, they could even arrange to have a day off. I presume they didn’t head into the city for a bit of retail therapy, them being short of cash at the time, but there would have been some lovely walks in nearby parks to give them a change of scenery.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this unusual piece of furniture that stands just inside the entrance to the main prison. Can you guess what it was for? All will be revealed next week. In the meantime, have a look at Norm’s blog to see a selection of Thursday Doors from various parts of the globe and thanks for stopping by – I hope I didn’t detain you for too long. 😉