A remarkable phenomenon was observed recently in the East Wing of Kilmainham Gaol. Around midday, small circles of light were noticed shining above the cell doors on one side of the vast hall. How did it happen? What could it mean?
The Ghosts of Kilmainham, little tricksters or an optical illusion?
Actually, it was sunshine. The sun is still low in the sky at this time of year (and I suppose it doesn’t shine very often either) but the other day, its rays shone in through the high windows of the first floor cells and on, through the spy holes of the cell doors and on, across the hall to cast their little beacons of light onto the wall above the cell doors on the ground floor.
It’s possible that this has been observed before – it’s quite likely that it happens every January – but for me, it was reminiscent of the winter solstice at Newgrange when the sun shines directly into its mystical inner chamber and illuminates the Neolithic carvings for a magical few moments.
It must have served as a powerful symbol of new life back then, the ceremonial meeting of Heaven and earth, and even in this grim prison museum, the determined rays of the sun remind us that the world keeps turning and that we still have a chance to make it right.
The world is turning, I hope it don’t turn away... Neil Young
The photos above are from the Facebook page of Kilmainham Gaol Museum, a page that’s well worth a visit. This museum has always held a special significance for my family because my Dad was involved in its restoration back in the late sixties. And more so for me, even, because in 2005, I had the privilege of putting on an exhibition of my own work here. Some images from that exhibition below…
I had the works installed behind the locked doors of the prison cells of the East Wing, to be viewed only through the guard’s spy holes. The exhibition was entitled: Éagnairc/ Requiem and it explored issues of national identity, idealism and the notion of freedom in the context of the 21st century.
That seems like a long time ago, now. I wonder does anyone remember it… ?