The Great Hill of Down, a holy place since time of the Druid,overlooks the town of Downpatrick, Co Down, Northern Ireland. The centre of worship for Celt and Christian. Preached on by St Patrick himself, indeed he is buried here. Sacked by the Norman conquerors and restored, A place of great history. John Wesley preached here on his Methodist misson.
Just a few hundred yards down the hill in the shadow of the cathedral is Downpatrick museum. Foreboding stone facade of a wall with a large gate as an entrance, it’s not untill one steps inside that you realise…. It was once a gaol!
A hell hole of deprivation and cruelty! Many sad tales are lost in the stone walls to be remembered in tribute by growing the little Fairy Foxglove or Irish Alpine ….as it is known ….in the walls.
This photo is a reconsruction in a cell within the gaol, that tells of a very typical story of the times.
‘The year is 1820.
Ann Morrison and her son Samuel, Elizabeth Dogherty, with an infant of nine months old at her breast, Mary Doyle of Drogheda.
Ann and Elizabeth were tried for passing forged banknotes. Mary for stealing three pairs of stockings.
Babies and young children came here with their mothers. Other children as young as twelve, were held here after being convicted of crimes.
Ann and Elizabeth were sentenced to transportation to Austrailia for forteen years, Mary to seven.
They travelled by convict cart to Dublin and Cork. The good ship ’John Bull’ took them to New South Wales. The journey took five months. Both Ann and Elizabeth later married ex-convicts. Two of Anns descendants returned in the 1990’s to tell the story.’
What happened to Mary Doyle?
Maybe the walls grow a Fairy Foxglove just for her.
A Phil Ochs song