Kilmainham Gaol

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8 Inchicore Road, Dublin, Ireland
(01) 453 5984

Kilmainham Gaol Dublin Reviews

christl3 christl3
171 reviews
Ireland changed forever within it's walls. May 21, 2014
Kilmainham Gaol is located on the Dublin Luas line. It costs €2 for student entry and €6 for adult entry. On the weekend during the summer prepare to wait in line outside for a half hour.

Kilmainham was built in the 1790s. The location was once very rural and on a high hill a bit outside of the city centre. It was not segregated which meant that men, women and children once shared cells under its roof. Public hangings occurred above the main entrance door until the 1820s. During the Irish Famine of the 1840s and 50s saw a massive overcrowding in Kilaminham of prisoners who purposefully committed crimes to avail of the reliable free food and board of the harsh prison.

Perhaps the era that made Kilmainham most popular was the time directly after the Easter Rising of 1916, the subsequent War of Independence and the Civil War. Countless political prisoners were incarcerated within the walls, among them, Countess Markievicz, Joseph Plunkett (who married his fiancee , Grace Gifford, in the prison four hours before his execution for the part in the Easter Rising) and Eamon de Valera, our former Taoiseach and president.

The prison is a very informative and moving place to visit as it gives visitors an insight into Irish history and politics and maps the events that culminated to make Ireland the self-governing republic that it is today. The very men and women deemed 'prisoners' in this gaol are now our martyrs, our freedom-fighters and our heroes.

See the stone-breakers yard where our revolutionaries were shot, James Connolly among them, strapped to a chair, causing major public outcry at the time.

The prison ceased operation during the 1920s and was left abandoned for forty years, during which time it fell into a state of serious disrepair. In the sixties it was reopened as a tourist attraction by the Kilamainham Restoration Society who, thankfully, realised its importance in Irish history.
The newer part of the gaol. Design…
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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waterfordgirl waterfor…
24 reviews
Irish Political History Intertwined with Built Heritage Dec 19, 2013
The Kilmainham Goal was by far my favourite heritage site in Dublin. The Goal was built in 1796 and was built in the 'new style' of the era, a style which moved towards a model of separation of prisoners into individual cells. In the previous local jail the inmates all mixes together in a form of chaos, the new Kilmainham Goal promoted a structured environment that allowed for the maximum number of prisoners under a minimum number of guards.

Access to the Goal is by guided tour only. Visitors can take in the museum which chronicles the history of the Goal, Irish social movements, and Irish political history while they wait for their guided tour to leave. The museum also includes a small section on the Goal's restoration and community support for the restoration project.

The walking tour of the former jail was extremely well done. The tour began with an audio-visual

Goal chapel

presentation in the former chapel of the jail. The presentation provided an overview of the history of the Goal and contextualized the Goal within larger social and political trends in Ireland.

Throughout the tour different cells, rooms, and former prisoners were mentioned and connected to the history of Ireland's struggle for independence. From the opening in 1796 until the closing in 1924 many notable Irish nationalist leaders were incarcerated in Kilmainham and a handful of them were hanged on site. The tour highlights the role the Goal played in the Irish rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1967, 1916, and the Irish War of Independence. The tour guide did an excellent job of explaining aspects of Irish history that many visitors may not be knowledgeable about. The tour also includes the opportunity to stand inside cells, visit the dead-man's row style room, and learn about developments in prison architecture.

At the time of my visit there was also an art exhibit installed in the new cell block (bottom right of the third photograph). Christina Henri'sRoses from the Heart exhibit featured bonnets representing the 25,566 convict women transported to Australia from Britain and Ireland from 1788 to 1853. Each bonnet was hand stitched with the name of a former inmate. This installation provided the opportunity to learn and think about the women and children inmates. According to our guide, the youngest inmate in Kilmainham was five years old and there were many children incarcerated for food related crimes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Kilmainham Goal. It's a bit of a walk from the Dublin city center but is well worth the trek. The Goal is also right near the old Kilmainham Hospital which has beautiful grounds and now houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
New Cell Block
Chapel inside Goal
8 / 8 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
joehobo says:
Nice to know that this review was featured. Congrats.
Posted on: Jan 15, 2014
cimtech says:
Congrats on your featured ..!
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013
Zagnut66 says:
Fascinating but disturbing to realize young children were imprisoned for stealing food. Congrats on being featured!
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013
mirkku387 mirkku387
18 reviews
Possibly the creepiest place I've ever visited Mar 11, 2013
This attraction is a bit on the creepy side as it's a former prison, but it sure gives a good insight on Ireland's political history. The majority of Irish rebellions leaders were imprisoned, some even executed in Kilmainham Gaol by the Britons, alongside with commoners.

Men, women and children were stored together in tiny cells and one can imagine how packed it must have been during the potato famine as many of said commoners were sentenced for literally being hungry - many of them were caught stealing an apple or a loaf of bread, poor souls.

I found the old jail much more haunting than the beautiful churches or Trinity College with its Book of Kells (which is pretty much just a book, sorry for my ignorance). In Kilmainham you can feel the history: it's so cold and windy, and absolutely miserable. Prepare to abandon all hope!
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Vioweil Vioweil
41 reviews
Don't miss touring Kilmainham Gaol Sep 27, 2011
If you ever travel to Dublin don't miss touring Kilmainham Gaol, the jail that was involved in some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland's history. It is currently the largest unused prison building in Europe and is open to the public via guided tour only.

Over its turbulent history, its cells held many of the most famous people involved in the campaign for Irish independence, when thousands of men, women and even children were imprisoned together because of their beliefs. Behind the typical heavy doors, in dark cells about the size of a home closet, with no plumbing and no heat and very little light, prisoners (often six to a cell) were waiting their sentences to death.

So when you stand in the central courtyard where a number of Ireland's most important historical figures died by firing squad or by the hangman's noose, you can't help but feel proud of those heroes that died there...
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
taberd1983 says:
Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Oct 23, 2011
kkrater says:
I had the best tour guide at this place. He knew so much about Irish history it was really impressive. Glad you enjoyed it!
Posted on: Oct 13, 2011
tj1777 tj1777
369 reviews
Kilmainham Gaol - old jail of Dublin Jan 28, 2011
The Kilmainham Gaol is the old jail of the city of Dublin. It was originally introduced as a reformed jail - which means it were build with the intention to reform the prisoners of the jail and provide them with certain standards of protection against abuse by other prisoners or prison guards. This last bit was particularly important for the female prisoners who in other jails might have been forced to provide sexual favours to other prisoners, guards or the general public as prostitutes.

Inside the reformed jail male and female prisoners where kept apart from each other to protect the women - the children lived with the women. Usually the prisoners had individual cells and they were supposed to become better people by secluding them from bad influence from other prisoners. This all worked in principal - but not during the Irish famine when the prison was over flown by lots and lots of prisoners who had been forced to steal food to survive.

All this information and much more will be provided by the tour guides who you'll need to follow to get to see the inside of the prison. The part of the reformed jail is the introduction to the tour which quickly starts to focus on the jails part in the Irish rebellion.

In the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising in 1916 many of the rebels where brought to the jail to be imprisoned - and the leaders to be shot. Therefore the jail is a vital part of the history of the Irish independence.

Among the prisoners who stayed in the jail was Patrick Henry Pearse who was one of the leader of the rebellion and the main author of the proclamation of the Irish Republic. He was among the people to get shot in the courtyard of the jail.

Another of the people who got shot in the courtyard was James Connolly - though he was actually never a prisoner in the jail. The reason he was never a prisoner was he got shot in the leg during the rebellion and he had been taken to a nearby hospital. His leg had become infected with gangrene and a doctor had predicted he would only have another day or two to live. Nevertheless the death sentence was carried out and he had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance and put on a chair to get shot - since he could not stand.

The treatment of James Connolly outraged the people of Dublin - and suddenly the sentiment of the Easter Rising changed. Before the executions of the rebels most of the Dubliners thought of them as troublemakers disturbing the peace - but after the executions they became martyr and the rebellion spread to the common population of Dublin and all of Ireland.
Declaration of the Irish Republic
The chapel in the jail
Door in the jail - the cell used t…
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
binky says:
I really enjoyed this tour when I was in Dublin. Depressing, but very interesting.
Posted on: Feb 28, 2011
cat10 cat10
8 reviews
Interesting look at history between Ireland and Britain Jun 14, 2011
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison that's now a museum. It was a prison that housed both men and women and children but conditions there were not very nice and often spent in the cold and dark.

Many leaders of the irish rebellions were kept there and some later executed by the British.

I really enjoyed looking around the prison and learning about the history between Ireland and Britain.

It can get quite busy in Summer so try to avoid lunchtime and early afternoon when queues can build. It's open from 09.30 - 18.00 from April to September. It's not in the city centre but it's definitely worth the short bus/tram ride (whichever you prefer) to visit it.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
tmhahn tmhahn
3 reviews
History lesson wrapped up in a tour Jan 28, 2011
I loved the Kilmainham Gaol prison in Dublin! In fact, it may have been the highlight of my stay. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, and they teach you a lot about the history of the city and the rebellions in Ireland, not to mention the living conditions in the cells at the time. It's great for history buffs! They also have a really neat museum that you have access to with a paid ticket.

If you get a chance, you should really look at the Last Words exhibit in the museum. It has some of the letters and personal belongings of some of the inmates before they were executed on the grounds of treason. It was the part that had the greatest impact on me around the prison and I found it to be incredibly insightful and moving; so simple, yet profound.

I'm not sure on the adult prices but Students and Seniors get entrance for 8 Euro, which is well worth it in my opinion! Deffinately a must see in Dublin!!!
The chapel, where one of the inmat…
One of the first prisons to have i…
Old doors.
0kee says:
i'm only a few doors down the road, you should have dropped in for a cup of tea! hope you had a good time in dublin. enjoy your time in italy!
Posted on: Jan 28, 2011
bmwguy81 bmwguy81
3 reviews
Favorite tour so far! Mar 29, 2011
Really enjoyed the tour today! The guide was very informative and humorous. It is well worth the money and time to visit the Gaol. Be sure to bring your camera to capture what was at one time a modern prison.
Vipin Vipin
691 reviews
Historically significant Sep 30, 2010
Built in the late eighteenth century, this gaol was active until the early part of twentieth century and is now a museum.

It was meant to be a reform prison rather than a punishment prison (i.e. help the convict to change his ways and become a respectable member of society). Despite these intentions, the prison was rather harsh. The main prisoners consisted of those who were campaigning for Irish independence. The conditions were overcrowded and it was often cold and dark. While some prisoners were shipped off to Australia, others were hanged in public at the gaol itself. This is still visible from the entrance today; you see the stone wall which has some wooden chunks covering up a couple of holes which previously held the wooden structure for the hangings.

You get to see the prison for about an hour with a guide only, and the tours start at various times of the day. The guides are very good and tell a wonderful story. It is comprehensive but not boring, and told with passion but doesn’t just make you pity the prisoners.

While waiting for your tour, or even after the tour if you just arrive in time for one, you get to see the exhibition too. This consists of various artefacts from the gaol’s history and a good amount of information.

The entrance fee is between 5 and 10 Euros for which you get to go on the tour and see the exhibition.

This was a real highlight of my trip to Dublin, notwithstanding the sad subject matter, and I think it’s well worth visiting.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
fransglobal says:
Never been there. Must go.
Posted on: Jan 02, 2011
YankeeFanTraveler YankeeFa…
5 reviews
Kilmainham Gaol Oct 15, 2008
A must see while you're in Dublin. Very cheap, the tour is in depth and informative. A great opportunity to visit an attraction with a great deal of significance in Irelands history for five euro.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
AleksandraEa Aleksand…
2 reviews
Kilmainham Goal - Dublin Nov 05, 2007
The prison Kilmainham Goal (or Kilmainham Jail) was opened in 1796 and extended during the following years constantly. Beside the GPO (general post office) Kilmainham Jail is the most important scene of the Irish struggle for independence - with a guidance the visitor gets a great insight into Irish history. Except O'Connel and the IRA leader Michael Collins here were locked up all leaders of the Irish struggle for independence and the Easter uprising of 1916 here in Kilmainham Goal.

Prices :

Adult about EUR 5.00
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
rishshell says:
i loved it!
Posted on: Oct 12, 2011
paobear says:
Its well worth a visit.
Posted on: Feb 27, 2011
fransglobal says:
I've never been either...
Posted on: Jan 02, 2011
alison_wndrlnd alison_w…
10 reviews
Mar 02, 2007
I've done the tour of Kilmainham Gaol twice, and I'd definitely go again if given a chance. I recommend it to anyone going to Dublin (well, anyone who is going to Dublin for more than just the drinking).

If you have an interest in Irish history at all, then Kilmainham shouldn't be missed. The guides are extremely knowledgable, and you are taken through all parts of the gaol: the "new" 18th century bits, and the older parts. Cells and places of interest regarding some of the gaol's more famous prisoners are also pointed out.

There's a brief video near the beginning of the tour too, which should help anybody not familiar with events like 1916 and prepare them for the importance and significane of Kilmainham and what they're about to see on the tour.

The tour lasts about an hour, and the entrance fee was nothing too pricey. It's definitely value for your money.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
ogle101 ogle101
1 reviews
Aug 22, 2007
I'm a big history fanatic and the Kilmainham Gaol is steeped in tons of it. The tour took us around the gaol and our tour guide was very informative, giving us tons of stories. If you let yourself imagine life back in the gaol, the executions, the labor, the horrible conditions, it really is something to experience.
This is the entrance to the goal a…
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Malena23 Malena23
21 reviews
Kilmainham Gaol Jan 16, 2004
Kilmainham Gaol (Príosún Chill Mhaighneann) is The reason why Kilmainham Gaol is considered the most infamous prison in Ireland. It was built in 1796 and closed in 1924. It worked as men's, women's and juvenile prison, because men, women and children shared the same cells. Also some of the leaders of the easter rising of 1916, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War were imprisoned and executed there.

When the prison was opened Ireland was in the midst of famine. Even though Kilmainham Gaol was considered the scariest building in Dublin, because public hangings were common and there was no heating or light in the prison cells, many people still commited crimes on purpose to be imprisoned there. During the famine, for many poor people the prison was the only place where they got food and shelter against the cold. So they had better chances of surviving inside than outside the prison.

Kilmainham Gaol is definitely one of the most best tourist attractions in Dublin. The stories about the prison were really interesting and seeing the cells as well as hearing the stories about prisoners there made the tour fascinating.

How to get there:

Buses from the City Centre 51, 51A, 78A and 79.

Opening Hours: April - Sept. 9.30am - 4.45pm daily. Oct - March Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4.00pm, closed Saturdays, Sundays 10.00am - 4.45pm

Admission: Adults £2.00, Children/Students £1.00, OAPs £1.50, Family £5.00 Group rates also available.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy

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photo by: fransglobal