Culture and heritage and a bit of this and that.

While doing the poll of slugger readers, 41.4% of people who took the survey said they’d like to see more cultural issues on slugger. In the others please specify there were some interesting comments.

1. Events on a small local scale; things that we can’t learn from reading the local papers Sun, 12/14/08 12:29 PM
2. More international issues, esp middle east Sat, 12/13/08 11:34 PM
3. Less astronomical and irish language threads Sat, 12/13/08 1:21 AM
4. More stories about life in Northern Ireland, but keep-up with the oddball stories and videos about science, nature, etc. Those are great. Sat, 12/13/08 12:34 AM
5. tried to nominate more cultural issues too. Fri, 12/12/08 11:32 PM
6. all of the above Fri, 12/12/08 7:28 PM
7. Less discussion of the credit crunch- utv is bad enough Fri, 12/12/08 6:40 PM
8. bit more on Irish music from time to time Fri, 12/12/08 5:06 PM
9. beagainin nios mo gaeilge Fri, 12/12/08 5:03 PM
10. More religious issues

It would be difficult to cover everything there, but there was a great discussion on religion during the Queens’ festival, which if we had known we may have been able to get some of the people in the discussion being interviewed by slugger. Perhaps its not too late? The Irish music is a difficult one, as you tube is the best place for offering musical input. The events on a small scale would be interesting, things that you don’t hear about in the msm, but how small and how local may not be of interest to everyone, or even most readers.

One of the things I found interesting was the tours of Crumlin road Jailhouse, which happened during the summer. I read somewhere the tours stopped as they are still completing the work, especially on the houses where the prison officers lived, which are as yet not open to the public. The tour staff are marvellous, we bought our tickets from the welcome centre relatively cheaply at around £5, and you will find that it is money well spent. For your money you will be shown around the jail, through the entrance the prisoners went through, accross the yard and into the reception area shaped like a circle. Two years ago, Queens did a production of Hamlet in the jail on a dark frosty night which was extremely good.

Our tour went along A wing, and you will see the small cells which were built for one person in Victorian times. In those days penal servitude was served alone in your cell and silence was a part of the punishment, to give you time to reflect on your misdeeds, but in more recent times the cells were used for two people. Cramped with no toilet facilities the cells were even more inhumane in todays age than they were in Victorian times. Women too, at one time were imprisoned there, especially those looking for votes.

The hanging cell, is two cells knocked into one, which makes it the biggest cell in the jail . Pictures here. The tour will then take you through the hanging process, from showing you where the rope was hung, how the hangman needed to weigh the prisoner, the lever that was pulled to release the trap, down the stairs to the room below where the body fell. This is the room where the body was then placed into a coffin, which the tour guide will show you, and is carried out of the jail, usually to be buried in the yard. The guide will show you the remaining unclaimed graves where the young Tom Williams also lay, until his body was claimed. Out in the yard, you will see the wall where the Crumlin kangaroos climbed in 1972 and escaped. When you see the size of the wall you will realise how dramatic that must have been. After that, there is the laundry and exercise yard. An hour well spent. The tours are usually run during the summer and can be booked on line via the welcome centre .

On Wednesday, I’ll be speaking to Anna Lo, so if any of you have any questions to put to her, I’d be glad to. Unfortunately N. Long was ill when I went to her offices last week, and Diedre Nelsons talk was also postponed but hopefully they’ll be up and running again starting with Anna on Wednesday. Furthermore, I’ve been in contact with the SDLP whose annual conference begins on Friday 23 January, if any of you have any further events that you would like to see slugger attend, let us know in the comments.

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