Kilmainham Goal Museum

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Even though it hasn't been used as a prison for almost a century, the grey mass of Kilmainham Gaol still gives people the creeps whenever they get close to it. You must visit this former jail if you have even the slightest interest in understanding Irish history and, in particular, the prolonged opposition to British colonial rule.

There was a very real possibility that Kilmainham would not have survived at all; the memories were too distressing. Kilmainham Gaol was spared destruction thanks to the persuasive arguments of several knowledgeable historians.

Things to do at Kilmainham Goal:

  • When you visit Kilmainham Gaol, you will feel as though you have traveled through time in Ireland: Kilmainham is saturated with the history of modern Ireland, and its walls reflect this. From the revolt in 1798 to the Irish Civil War in 1922 and 1923, political prisoners were held (and occasionally executed) in this location. Over more than a century, Kilmainham Gaol was home to thousands of male, female, and juvenile inmates serving time for offenses ranging from petty theft to participation in some of the most significant turning points in Irish history, including the rebellion that occurred in 1798, the Easter Rising that occurred in 1916, the Anglo-Irish War that occurred between 1919 and 1921, and the devastation that occurred during the Irish Civil War that occurred between 1922 and 1923. If you visit the museum, you will have the opportunity to gain valuable context and access to some personal possessions and letters that former prisoners once held.
  • Taking a guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol is an emotionally moving and evocative experience that provides an interesting, albeit distressing, look into what life is like inside a prison: The oldest one, known as the West Wing, has been preserved in its original form, and it is still capable of inducing a chill to the bone. Life was difficult for those incarcerated here, including political prisoners and the most impoverished offenders (who were frequently sentenced for stealing food during the Great Famine). In contrast, the East Wing is filled with natural light and has a pleasant, open atmosphere, although it is not extravagant. It is set up in the traditional manner of a jail, with metal pathways and clanging cell doors, so that guard can keep an eye on the inmates at all times.
  • Two chapels, one Catholic and another Protestant, were provided for the spiritual nourishment of the inmates, but, even in these spaces, the potential for disaster was present. Joseph Plunkett, a leader of the Easter Rising, wed his fiancee Grace Gifford in a Catholic chapel just hours before he was executed. The Stonebreakers' Yard, where the fourteen leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 were put to death, serves as the final stop on jail tours.
  • There is also a ray of hope that shines amidst the gloom and despair: The Gaol exudes a sense of renewed optimism these days, and it's not simply because prisoners are now permitted to leave. A recent display on Nelson Mandela and another about the difficulties of the suffragette movement are two recent examples of the types of exhibits that can be found on the top floor of the building. Both of these exhibits focus on political prisoners from around the world.
  • Leave inspired by the courage and gratefulness for the freedom you enjoy: Take a few deep breaths as you re-enter the open space overlooking Phoenix Park and Dublin and step back out into the crisp air: You may recollect the spirits of the past while sipping coffee in the more contemporary surroundings of the Lime Tree Café or Storyboard in Islandbridge. Both of these establishments are located nearby. The Royal Hospital, home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, can be found nearby.
  • imageDuration Required
    1 hour 30 minutes

Address of Kilmainham Goal Museum

Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland

Opening & Closing time of Kilmainham Goal Museum

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday