News from Befrienders Dublin
On Saturday, 15th June, NDBS took a group of members to Wicklow. The Gardai kindly supplied us with a bus and even when The G8 commandeered said bus, the boys in blue found us a replacement. They also gave us the very cheerful Tom to drive us.
The sun shining after days of rain bode well for our trip. However our NDBS Navigator cast a temporary gloom over proceedings by quickly getting us lost. Somehow, we ended up at Wicklow dog pound! However, after frantic shuffling of papers and comically confused calls to The OPW, we eventually arrived at our intended destination Kilmacurragh Arboretum, only slightly later than planned.
The arboretum was extremely beautiful, tranquil and very interesting. Our OPW guide Claire was full of fascinating information about the many exotic trees and plants we encountered. We enjoyed the rhododendron trees, red or white, take your pick! But please don’t pick, or indeed steal the flowers. Sadly, some folk recently have been pilfering their precious plants. Information to the Gardai at Wicklow.
We had a lovely lunch in Wicklow Gaol Cafe and had a quick walk around the town. Some went to the Oxfam shop to rummage for bargains. Some headed to the cannons high above the harbour for a lovely view and a photo op.
Go to Jail, do not collect 200 pounds!
We didn’t have far to go to get to Wicklow Gaol, seeing as we’d just eaten there. The staff dress in Period costumes and act out various roles, jailer, teacher etc. Our Jailer took us into the waiting room and treated us as if we were prisoners beginning a stretch of porridge. He regaled us with horrible tales of prisoners past and delighted in describing the horrible fates that awaited us, should we not toe the line. These including flogging and hanging.
He told Tom the driver to stand up and asked us if we pay would for the rope to hang him? We said ‘No’. The jailer laughed. He explained that if we didn’t pay, Tom would still be hung, but with OLD rope, meaning it would probably break, and, as prisoners were hung from the top floor of the Jail, poor old Tom would probably plummet to the ground, break his legs and suffer months of agony until he was well enough to be hung again.
We saw how children could be imprisoned for the most minor of offences. Adults didn’t fare much better. If someone owed money, they could be imprisoned until the debt was paid. If the prisoner died, the debtor could nominate someone from that person’s family to take over the prison sentence.
We saw the treadwheel, a giant contraption which produced nothing but the sweat and tears of the prisoners who would tread the wheel for up to five hours per day.
Finally we saw the stocks, where prisoners would have their head and arms locked in and presumably be pelted with all manner of unpleasant materials. We decided this was the perfect punishment for the Navigator’s earlier cock-up. But we didn’t throw any rotten tomatoes at him.
We couldn’t find any!
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