Ireland - Thursday, June 3rd

We checked into the Grand Hotel in Wicklow and were quite pleased.  Wicklow is on the slopes of Ballyguile Hill which overlooks a wide bay.  This old town with narrow streets has been renovated beautifully keeping its old world atmosphere.  It is in this town that I found the best Chai Latte that I have ever had.

Wicklow is a seaport and market for an area of potato growing and livestock raising.  It was interesting to tour  Wicklow’s Historic Gaol , although it was a bit creepy. As you travel back in time, you are entering one of the cruellest, most historically shameful places in Ireland.  It was built around 1902 and the first recorded prisoner was Fr. Owen Mc Fee, a seventy two year old priest, who was convicted of saying Mass in the County contrary to the law.  He was sentenced to transportation to a British colony in America in 1716. The practice of transporting the dregs of society from England and Ireland “beyond the seas” was formalized in 1716 with the Banishment Act.  Those transported at this time were sent to the Americas. When this colony was lost to the British during the War of Independence in 1776 another destination was required. A number of options were listed and tried and eventually the recently discovered New South Wales was selected and colonized by convicts in 1788. The first Irish convicts were transported to this colony in 1791 and prisoners were sent there from Wicklow Gaol from 1796 until the 1850’s.  There were 105 Wicklowmen  transported during this time.  I understand once there they worked as servants for 7 years then were given 100 acres of land, never seeing their families again.

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