A place I’ve never visited

Mountjoy Jail

I searched for a place to visit in Dublin,
A place where I’d never been before.
I decided to walk to The Dracula Museum in Clontarf.
But discovered that it had closed some time ago
And was not due to reopen any century soon.
The museum was housed in the Westwood Leisure Complex,
Alongside Barcode, one of North Dublin’s best loved discos,
Itself a scary place
For most adults over a certain age.

I’d like to say that I was disappointed that Dracula was no longer available,
But to tell the truth I wasn’t.
I was scared of Dracula ever since I was eight years old
When my brother stole my grandfather’s false-teeth
And chased me around the house
Pretending to be THE VAMPIRE.
But my husband said it was the only place that we had never visited.

We had done the Dublinia, Medieval Dublin
And the Viking Splash thingy,
Trinity College,
St. Patrick’s Cathedral,
The Guinness Storehouse,
The Tower at Sandycove
And The Joyce Museum.
We’d even done the Dublin Eye at the O2

I really wanted to go to Mountjoy Jail.
Somebody suggested Kilmainham Goal instead,
But I’d been there.
The same day I visited
The Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital,
Personally speaking, the art didn’t impress me.
I prefer the older stuff.
The National Gallery is handier anyway.

I discussed it with my family.
I thought it might jog their memory as to where I’d been,
Or not been,
But the kids just nodded sympathetically, and said,
‘Ma, at your age you’ve probably been EVERYWHERE.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘I’ve have never been to Mountjoy Jail.’

As a seven year old
My father taught me to sing my life long party piece
In Mountjoy Jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.

We lived near the prison.
I played in the park in the shadow of its walls.
I imagined I could see the prisoners through the tiny window bars;
Hear the clanging of the doors locking behind them.
I had watched the rooftop protests.
I knelt by my bed as a child and prayed for the poor prisoners,
Particularly the most neglected one,
Like the most neglected soul in Purgatory.
It was I was sure the only place that I had never visited.

I discussed it everywhere, with everyone.
‘I’d really like to go to Mountjoy Jail,’ I said,
‘But I don’t know how to get in.’
People laughed.
They knew exactly how I’d get in.
Maybe I could break a few windows.
That was sure to attract the attention of the Gardai
They’d guarantee me a short visit to The Joy.

Break a few windows!
I didn’t think my family would approve.
My writing was already getting in the way of my husband’s shirts being ironed.
And his dinners, if he got any, were on average and hour late each evening.
He would not be impressed.
He’d swear before a judge that he could not afford the bail money to get me out.
Just to teach me a lesson.
He’s a teacher.

That started me thinking.
About something a friend told me once.
‘Good girls go to Heaven,’ she said,
‘Bad girls go everywhere.’
I’ve been everywhere.
I might just get into Mountjoy yet.


One thought on “A place I’ve never visited

  1. Lovely story, told as usual with that sardonic wit that is essentially Dublin, and leaves no room for self pity.

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