Kilmainham Jail, Dublin

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Inchicore Road, Dublin 8 353 1453 5984

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  • The prison after it was improved?
    The prison after it was improved?
    by SusanVC
  • Kilmainham Jail
    by Pomocub
  • Kilmainham Jail
    by Pomocub
  • Kilmainham Jail and the Easter Uprising 1916

    by Mariajoy Updated Sep 27, 2005

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    Kilmainham Gaol
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    This is one place you MUST visit when you are in Dublin. Take a number 79 bus out of the city to Kilmainham - it takes about 10 minutes. This jail held the leaders of the Easter Uprising of 1916 and they were executed here.

    There is a guided tour which lasts about an hour and costs 5 Euro. It is given in English but the talk is VERY fast, and of a detailed political nature. I had difficulty following it as the tour guide had a very pronounced accent and I wondered how much a non-English speaker would actually understand.

    The building is exceptionally cold and dark in places, especially the old wing, and you can get a feel of how life must have been for prisoners held there. 200-150 years ago, imprisonable offences ranged from murder, larceny, and rape to the stealing of bread, turnips and a coat. Children as young as 6 or 7 were held here in the same cells as adults. It was grim. Many are buried under the slabs in the "exercise" yard. Many were transported to the colonies where, after they had completed their sentences, they were free and had much better lives than those that remained.

    During the famine years life in prison was marginally better than life outside - often minor offences were committed purely to get the miscreant into jail where at least they were guaranteed a roof and a small amount of food each day.

    The new wing has been used in the films The Italian Job with Michael Caine and also The Name of the Father with Daniel Day Lewis.

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    Kilmainham Gaol

    by jo104 Updated Sep 27, 2005

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    The Gaol was built in 1796 on a hill with the idea that the fresh air would be good for the prisoners, although no glass in the windows & porous limestone walls illness quickly spread.

    Men & women were kept separate in the Gaol & even children were sent here for petty crimes luck stealing potatoes. One man was held for 7 years for stealing a cart wheel. Photo’s were taken with a mirror to get the side profile.

    14 leaders of the 1916 Easter uprising for Irish independence were held & executed here. Joseph Plunkett got married to Grace Gifford & executed 2 hours later.

    The East wing was modernised & it was known as the all seeing eye. Prisoners were not allowed to talk & there were carpets on the floors outside the cells so prisoners could not hear the footsteps of the gaurds.

    During the famine the jail was overcrowded, sometimes up to 6 in a cell made for one, people were committing crimes so as to get their 2 small meals in jail

    Sometimes they have art galleries in the Jail cells of the East wing

    Entrance into museum & guided tour is Euro 5

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  • tara108's Profile Photo

    Kilmainham Gaol

    by tara108 Written Apr 22, 2011

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    The tour of this gaol and its museum was the highlight of our trip to Dublin. Fascinating insight to the more recent Irish history and the struggles for independence. Our tour guide was fantastic - just the right amount of information, never boring.

    Just a word of advice: don't bring children under 8 years old to this. It's boring for them and very distracting for the rest of the group to have a bored child verbalizing and running about. My 12-year-old enjoyed most of it and was able to cope with some of the longer talks, but young ones simply cannot.

    The courtyard at the end is a powerful reminder of how fortunate we are to be free.

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    A surreal walk through history

    by Jefie Updated May 21, 2009

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    On our guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol
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    Built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol served as a prison for 130 years, and it is now one of the most popular attractions in Dublin - and quite understandably so! We were once again lucky to have a very interesting tour guide, and as he led us through the prison's old wings, his description of the harsh conditions that prevailed while the building was in use became vividly real. Two major events marked the prison's history: the Great Famine, during which poverty led many men, women and even children to Kilmainham Gaol, and the Easter Rising of 1916. One of the first room we get to visit is the small chapel where Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, got married just a few hours before his execution. As we walked along the damp and dingy corridors, our guide explained the main events leading to the uprising as well as its consequences, while pointing out in which cell each of the leaders had spent his last hours. After a tour of the prison's Victorian wing, which has been featured in a number of movies, the tour ended in the very courtyard where the Easter Rising leaders were all executed. It was a very moving and very educational tour at the same time, definitely worth the short detour from city centre!

    Kilmainham Gaol is open daily, and tours last about 1.5 h. There's a small cafe when you can get refreshments. Tickets: 6 Euros.

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    Kilmainham Gaol

    by kentishgirl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol

    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.

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  • kentishgirl's Profile Photo

    Kilmainham Gaol

    by kentishgirl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Old part of the jail

    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.

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    Kilmainham Goal - Take The Tour -See The History

    by Mikebb Updated Mar 15, 2009

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    Kilmainham Goal, Dublin
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    Kilmainham Goal opened in 1789 and was hailed as a forerunner in design for modern prisons. The design allowed for greater supervision of prisioners in that the circular ends of the building provided better vision for the guards. Many modern day prisions use this basic design.

    The goal was used during the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867, 1883, 1916. It was here that the 14 leaders of the Easter Rising were imprisioned and subsequently executed by firing squad.

    Eamon de Valera was imprisioned here and released in 1924 shortly before the Goal closed permanently. Eamon was eventually elected President of Ireland.

    During the 19th century famine years over 7,000 men and women were packed into the cells.

    Entry to the Goal is cheap and includes a guided tour. We travelled to the Goal on the Hop On Hop Off Bus.

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    Kilmainham Gaol

    by Dabs Updated Nov 29, 2009

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    Kilmainham Gaol

    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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    Kilmainham Gaol

    by MichaelFalk1969 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A must-see attraction with a bitter theme: This is the jail building where the leaders of the Irish "Easter Rising" 1916 where held and executed by the British. It is a bit difficult to reach - I recommend a taxi or a bus. The guided tour of the prison is excellent: The tour guide will provide some heartwrenching anecdotes. One insurgent was married on the jail grounds, only to be executed a few minutes later. It is said his wife heard the shots while leaving the building. You leave the gaol with respect for the people who fought against all odds to build a free Ireland.

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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    Amazing how much emotion one feels here!

    by Roadquill Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In the Execution Yard at Kilmainham Gaol

    The Kilmainham Gaol was the city jail for hundreds of years. Bleak, depressing, hopeless. All these thoughts envelope your head as you tour through the barren cells, church and walkways. This is where the British held and excuted the leaders of the Easter Uprising. You are taken into the actual yard and it seems like it had happend only a day before. In the movie "Michael Collins" the scene in the gaol is so real it is unnerving. Don't miss the Post Office where these leaders fought and were captured.

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  • Kilmainham Gaol

    by Aliseeya Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This jail had a very authentic feel to it, and one of the few tourist attractions in Dublin that was not crowded. Before entering the jail, there was an exhibit which provided a ton of information about Dublin's history. A guided tour was included in the price of admission, as well as a short film about the jail's history. I really enjoyed my visit, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Irish history.

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    A darker side of Dublin's past

    by morgane1692 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    all cells under constant surveilance at all times

    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.

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  • Mikebb's Profile Photo

    Kilmainham Goal - Easter Week Rebellion 1916

    by Mikebb Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Mrs Joseph Plunkett's Cell
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    On our tour of the Goal there were many places of interest were highlighted relating to the Easter Week rebellion.

    Some of these were the cells where the prisoners were kept, the plaque detailing the names of those executed within the goal, and the Cross in the courtyard indicating where executions took place.

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  • morgane1692's Profile Photo

    If these dragons could talk!

    by morgane1692 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the dragon's not such a happy symbol now, eh?

    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.

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    Steeped in the struggle

    by sourbugger Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Joseph Plunkett, poet and martyr

    Kilmainham jail remains one of the most poiniant reminders of the violent birth of the Irish nation.

    The extreme group of nationalists responsible for the Pheonix park murders, known as 'The Invincibles' were executed here by William Marwood. This famous executioner (he would not use the term 'hangman') from Horncastle in Lincolnshire, UK relished his work. His 'calling card' can still be seen in the museum sextion inside the jail.

    The leaders of the uprising of 1916 were also imprisoned here and faced the firing squad rather than the noose. The compulsory tour the jail dwells on the stories and row of cells that held these men.

    In particular the tragic story of Joseph Mary Plunkett , the poet is told in some detail. He was at 28, the youngest to sign the declaration of independence at the GPO (general post office), and his fate was sealed. On the final night he married his childhood sweetheart Mary Gifford. His 'honeymoon' consisted of the grand total of 10 minutes in his cell - and even then they wern't left alone to consumate the marriage. It would be nice to think that a blind eye was turned - but I doubt it.

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