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Built in 1795, in Kilmainham Jail Irish heroes were imprisoned including Charles Stewart Parnell, Robert Emmet, Eamon de Valera, Padraig Pearse and James Connolly. Indeed at least 14 leaders of the Easter Rising were executed at Kilmainham Jail in 1916. It was closed in 1924.
Visitors are given a guided tour of the history of Kilmainham including visiting the cells and seeing the signatures of famous prisoners on the wall. An audio-visual presentation is included in the guided tour.
If you have any interest in Irish history, this is a MUST SEE stop!
Kilmainham is a must see on any visit to Dublin, it will open you eyes and really teach you about the history of this country and its people....In my own opinion it also makes you realise why some things are the way they are today in Ireland, and why some Irish people think the way that they do, why every Irish person is SO proud to be Irish.
Its a heart rendering place, but must be visited and at points made me ashamed to be English.
It is worth giving yourself extra time when visiting, the museum is three stories high and has some fabulous information inside it.
This is the only part of the whole building that you can explore alone, the rest is by guided tour.
This picture was taken in the older part of the jail, it was stone cold, you cannot imagine how these people lived in such bad conditions.
The cells are tiny, and they had only a mattress, a bucket and a candle....Sad times.
If you can, take a tour of Kilmainham Jail. The history of this place is incredible, and the people who spent time here are some of the most famous (and infamous) in Irish history. The guided tours are very informative, and looking through their museum gives you a great idea of what life in that prison was like. It was really amazing to see in person what I had learned about in many of my Irish history and politics classes. It makes history come to light!
I loved this tour...the reasons are many....it is very educational, I learned so much about Irish history, heard so many very interesting stories about Irishmen...all in all Gaol (Jail) is a MUST SEE in Duublin. xx
- Historical Travel
Saved him from execution!
The cross in the image above shows the spot where James Connolly who was tied to a chair to keep him upright was executed after the 1916 Easter Rising when fifteen of the leaders were executed by firing squad in the stone-breaker’s yard, among them Patrick Pearse and his brother William, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke and Joseph Plunkett.
Plunkett had married his sweet-heart Grace Gifford in the prison chapel the night before his execution, the couple being allowed just a few minutes together before their final separation.
At the same time a frantic search for Eamon de Valera's American birth certificate saved him from execution by a government unwilling to upset its potential US ally in World War I. If de Valera had retained the Irish form of his name, Edward Coll, he would have joined his fellow revolutionaries among Ireland's martyred patriots and the subsequent course of Irish history would have been very different.
When it came to political prisoners, the authorities learned too late that many were more dangerous when in prison than when free and, in the case of the 1916 leaders, more dangerous dead than when alive. The Rebellion ushered in the most traumatic and final period in the prison’s history with the conflict of 1919-21 that brought about independence and the subsequent civil war during which a policy of official executions as reprisals embittered and divided Ireland for many years after.
piece of irish history
Kilmainham Jail or gaol is the place, where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were executed-and where Joseph Plunkett married Grace Gifford in a secret ceremony only hours before he was executed.
The guided tour was very interesting and the guide defenitely knew what he was talking about, so if you're interested in irish history- must-see!!!
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
A darker side of Dublin's past
If you've any interest in history, and you must or you wouldn't be here...WOULD you?!?!...do yourself a favor and visit Kilmainham Jail. It's a bit off the beaten track, not a very short walk from midtown, but if you do manage to find it on your own, rest assured there are buses from around the corner which will easily deposit you back at Temple Bar in a heartbeat. It was built back in the late 18th century and was in use to some degree clear through to the 1920's. You don't even have to know a lot about it or anything about it really, before you go, you have to take a guided tour anyway and will emerge with your head stuffed with facts and figures fleshed out by real stories on real people. And when you get home, you'll have to put Michael Collins and In the Name of the Father on your DVD rental list.
If these dragons could talk!
One of the myriad of historical facts and figures you hear here, which you should definitely keep in mind as you cross the threshold on your way out: This intricately carved doorway with the fancy mythical creatures, this is the site of Kilmainham's gallows for a good many years. And you are there. Brrrrr.
This unoccupied jail is something of a sobering experience, expecially as most people come here just before or after a visit from the nearby Guinness Brewery.
The site hosted many recent film shoot, notably "In the Name of the Father". The old Victorian building hosts an excellent exposition about the Irish struggle for freedom throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Some of the stories are harrowing and the fact that you're actually there, makes it all the more realistic.
It worth the effort of catching a bus from town and see a less romantic (but infinitely more realistic) part of Ireland's turbulent past.
Go down to Kilmainham to get a feeling for the less happy Ireland of less than 100 years ago. Another one of those places people need to go to in order to ensure we don't make the same mistakes again!!
If you are interested in Irish history, this is the Dublin attraction I would like to recommend beside the 1916 rebellion walking tour (see separate tip). You don’t need to have any background knowledge as the story of Kilmainham Gaol, its role under Victorian rule and the Irish struggle for independence is well explained. However, if you do not nothing at all about Irish history, please skip one tour, familiarize yourself with a hand full of names (like Michael Connolly or Eamon de Valera) and take the tour afterwards. Most parts of the building complex can only be seen with this guided tour which regularly starts from the exhibition hall and is included in your ticket (takes a little more than an hour). Some parts of the tour include walking outside or very cold alleys in winter time, so don’t stow away your jackets and sweaters. The exhibitions go over several floors and are really good. The only thing I would complain about was the guide. She was maybe the most bored I have ever seen on any tour. Hopefully, you get a better one! Visit the exhibition hall again after the tour to go through all the things you didn’t see before and to see the cetrain things from a new perspective.
The first parts of this building complex were opened in1796, the last prisoner was Eamon de Valera who escaped exceution because of his American Citizenship. He became later President of the Republic Of Ireland. Shortly after Valera left, the building closed and it was not until then1960s when its historical value was recognized and it was restored to be present day’s museum and monument. Kilmainham was especially unfamous for the inprisonment and execution of the leaders of the 1916 Easter rising. The panopticum (which is seen in several movies and is probably the stereotype of a 19th century prison) is worth to mention as well as several grafitties left by prisoners which will be pointed out by your tour guide. During the potato famine years, the prison was overcorwded. As prison life provided a shelter and basic food, people often commited small crimes just to get into prison.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Many famous people in Ireland's history were held in this jail - including the leaders of the 1916 Easter rising who were executed here.
A word of warning though - the building is cold so in Winter be sure to bring your woolies. Also it's probably better if you have an interest in and/or basic understanding of Irish history. Finally, it's not really a place for kids - there's not a lot for them to do or look at.
Kilmainham Gaol tops my list of must sees in Dublin, it has a fascinating history which is told to you on a guided tour through the former jail which was open from 1796 until 1924. The most famous of the prisoners, and the ones with the most interesting stories, were the leaders of the ill fated 1916 Easter uprising. As we toured through the cellblocks, our guide pointed out the cells and told us the history of James Connolly who was gravely injured and shot while tied to a chair; brothers Padraic and William Pearse who were executed one day apart; Joseph Plunkett who married Grace Gifford on the eve of his execution, Grace made a return visit as a prisoner in 1923; and future Irish President Eamon de Valera who was saved from execution by his American citizenship.
Kilmainham has been used in a number of movies set in Ireland including In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins, the architecture that you can see in the attached photo is from the main cell block and is quite stunning, especially considering this was a prison.
Access to the jail is by guided tour only, when I arrived there was a 15-20 minute wait but there is an extensive museum that you can look at while waiting for the tour to start where you can learn about the prisoners dire living conditions especially during the famine when people were commiting crimes just to have a place to live and have a meal, so they made conditions so bad that it was almost better to be better outside than inside to prevent overcrowding.
Kilmainham is included on the Heritage Card and is a stop on the Dublin bus. I have more pictures and a bit more explanation in my travelogue
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