Thursday Doors


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, Β 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.


Model of Cork City Gaol

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 hadΒ 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. πŸ˜‰


About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
This entry was posted in castles and ruins, Historical buildings, Ireland, Thursday Doors, victorian society and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Thursday Doors

  1. sjhigbee says:

    A wonderful, informative post, Jean. And Himself and I are completely stumped as to your piece of furniture!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bikerchick57 says:

    Jean, this is fascinating. I will have to remember to come back here in the next week to check out more of this prison castle and find out how that piece of furniture was used. I have an idea, but I’ll wait for your answer. Great post and lead on your future posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joey says:

    I can only imagine it’s a literal wheelchair, so I await your answer.
    Great doors, nice pun πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lucciagray says:

    Lovely post. I love the atmosphere in and around historical buildings. The piece of furniture looks like some sort of chair to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mel & Suan says:

    Oh dear! Seems no bankruptcy laws were in place as they are known today! Imagine trying to conduct your business to pay back debt from the gaol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right about not being able to earn money to pay off debts while in prison. Charles Dickens and his older sister were the only members of his family that didn’t end up in debtor’s prison with his father. John Dickens was was sent to Marshalsea Gaol in 1824, in London, when Charles was 12 years old, for a debt of Β£40 and 10 shillings that he owed to a baker. His mother and siblings moved into his father’s cell but Charles was working in a factory and tried to pay off the debt. In time, John Dickens received an inheritance and was able to pay the debt, releasing him and his wife and children from prison. At least it gave Dickens some inspiration for his books, as he featured that same prison in his fiction.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mel & Suan says:

        Indeed, those childhood memories and experience sure shaped a person’s mind. That saying, it was like as if debtors are not expected to be able to pay, that’s why they are incacerated. If John Dickens had not received an inheritance, would they not had been in the gaol till the end of their lives? wow

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Vicky says:

    A lovely trip around Cork jail, rather imposing but then it needed to be I expect. Interesting they could arrange a family swap out for the day!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norm 2.0 says:

    Seems like a fascinating place to visit. I have no idea about that piece of furniture – I’m looking forward to next week then πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jesh stg says:

    First looked like I was finding out a macabre side of you (smile), till I started reading the text. What – a prison where you can stand in for that person for a day?? Crazy on one hand, humorous and humanitarian on the other:):)
    I’ll come later to respond to the “editing”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. slfinnell says:

    Your ‘capture’ of the doors here was incorrupt πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan Antion says:

    Great photos, Jean. I had to chuckle at “…opened in 1824, replacing the old prison…” given that so little in this country remains standing from 1824. I’ll be back next week to find out what that chair??? is/was used for/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Great blog, I get the feeling that there is no nice answer to the point of the chair!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jan says:

    Hum, does it have something to do with torture? An old time barber’s chair?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. socialbridge says:

    A great choice of place, Jean. I was waiting for a red door!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Matt says:

    It’s amazing how interesting prisons can be. The only one I’ve really been to is Alcatraz and I found the history there was just incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love all that blue, Jean. How interesting that a prisoner could swap places with a family member for a day. You’d have to really love someone to do that!


    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very interesting history! I had no idea the wealthy in debtors prison could swap out a day with a family member! I don’t know what the chair is for, but you’ve piqued my interest! I’ll be back next week for the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jennie says:

    Wonderful, Jean!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Joanne Sisco says:

    This is a formidable looking structure even without all the bars on the windows! I imagine next week’s post on the interior is going to be even more eye-opening!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. jorgekafkazar says:

    You have a great blog! Much fun.
    The wheeled chair was probably less fun. Perhaps it was used to trundle out prisoners who were reluctant to leave the prison when their terms were over? More likely, the opposite. I suspect chains were involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great guess about reluctant prisoners and there were one or two who preferred prison to a cold night’s sleep on the streets. They made a habit of being drunk and disorderly so that they would be arrested and at least sleep indoors for a few weeks – and get fed. You’ll be surprised to find out what that chair was actually used for.


  20. Pingback: Sunday Post – 15th January 2017 | Brainfluff

  21. Nice, interesting post. Our Federal prisons for white collar criminals must be like that (Martha Stewart) had a vacation in a federal prison πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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