Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol held some of the most famous political and military leaders in Irish history such as Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell, the 1916 Rising leaders and Eamon de Valera.
Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is actually the biggest unoccupied gaol in these islands. For this reason it gives the visitor a dramatic and realistic insight into what is was like to have been confined in one of these bleak fortresses of punishment and correction between 1796 when it opened and 1924 when it closed. It offers a great insight into some of the most profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history.
The opening and closing of the Gaol more or less coincided with the making and breaking of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland. There can be few places, therefore, that more intensely crystallize the forces that shaped modern Irish nationalism than Kilmainham Gaol.
Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were detained here.
So what to expect of the tour:
- The ground floor exhibition tells the story of Kilmainham Gaol from the perspective of the ordinary prisoner.
- Rebellion, nationalism and the path to independence are the themes of the exhibition on the first floor, which deals with Irish political history from the 1798 rebellion up until the end of the Irish Civil War in 1924.
- The ‘Last Words’ section of this exhibition displays the last letters and personal belongings of the fourteen leaders of the Easter Rising executed at Kilmainham Gaol in May 1916.
- The final floor of the exhibition tells the extraordinary story of a group of volunteers who rescued Kilmainham Gaol from near ruin in the 1960s and restored it as a monument dedicated to the men and women who were imprisoned or executed in Kilmainham Gaol in the cause of Irish independence.
The visit includes a guided tour and exhibition. It is a very busy and it is worth pre-booking the tour. Access is by guided tour only.
Facilities include, toilets, disabled toilets and tearooms.
Please contact the Gaol for information on ongoing temporary exhibitions.
Kilmainham Gaol is open all year round, except the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December. Opening hours daily are 9.30am-5.30pm and last tour is Last tour 4.15pm
Opening hours vary at Kilmainham Gaol on the following dates due to commemoration events of the anniversary of Leaders Execution: May 3rd, May 4th, May 5th, May 8th, May 12th.