Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796, and is without doubt Ireland’s most famous prison. Many famous Irish Nationalists were held in prison here and the leaders of the 1916 Ester Rising were executed in the exercise yard. It was closed in 1924 - the last prisoner was Eamon de Valery, who later became Prime Minister and President of Ireland...
The Gaol now functions as a museum, and is open for public on guided tours... It will take you through the prison chapel, the West Wing, the prison yards with the execution spot, and the East Wing... The East Wing is the most spectacular section; it has 96 cells, is 3 storeys high and has been used as settings for a few well-known films like “In the Name of the Father” and “Michael Collins”. Very interesting and absolute worth a visit…
It held throughout the years many famous Nationalists and Republicans in members of the Society of United Irishmen (1798), Young Irelanders (c1840s), Fenians and Land agitators, Parnell, Davitt. The leaders of the 1916 Ester Rising were executed here. When you stand in the execution area, you cannot help but feel sad about what struggles there were for this nation to get to independence, but I am sure that the people who gave their lives for it, is happy today. The prison was closed in 1924. This building gives a good insight into the history of Irish Republicanism
Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) was one of the most forbidding bastions of punishment and correction between 1796 when it opened and 1924 when it closed. Visitors can see just what it was like to be confined behind these bars and tells the story of some profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history.
Restored cells and prison to original
Historical insight into Irish nationalism
Tours of grounds and prison
Did you know
- Leaders of Dublin’s rebellions were detained here, including Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell, leaders of the 1916 Rising and DeValera, 'the first Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland
- When it was first built in 1796 public hangings were held in the front of the gaol
- The youngest prisoner recorded at Kilmainham Gaol was a mere seven years old
Visitors can join a tour of Dublin’s iconic and historic jail and learn about its infamous prisoners and the horrible conditions in which theys were kept. From the early 18th century when public hangings weren’t uncommon, standards of living didn’t get much better over the years. When Kilmainham was first built, cells of only 28m² were crammed with men, women and children who were kept in the dark and damp, huddled for warmth over just one candle. Yet things didn’t much improve as in the early 1800s women prisoners were still lying on straw beds.
Now, Kilmainham Gaol is one of Dublin’s most important modern monuments and because of its involvement in the struggle for national independence, provides a great historic insight into Irish Nationalism.