An open prison in Cavan offers greater freedom and responsibility to inmates, while also helping prepare them for life after their release.

Open the café door gingerly, not sure what to expect, it being our first time to pop into our nearest prison for a cuppa and all.

Inside, the pretty log cabin is empty and a young man looks out from behind a counter, which adds to our sense of make-believe.

Will he be nice? Will he know what to do? What if we say the wrong thing?

For we are people from the free world and have crossed the invisible barriers into what is for most on the outside, a frightening, unknown world of captivity.

We order teas and coffees, scones and — go on, so — a donut for the road. He serves them all up quickly, neatly wrapping the donut in some napkins, apologetic that he has no takeaway bags.

It’s quiet now but will get busier at midday, he assures us, mainly with locals and visitors.

Do they get many tourists? No, he replies, looking puzzled, and we kick ourselves.

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