Kilmainham Jail, Dublin
Kilmainham Gaol functioned as a rigorous house of punishment and correction from 1796 to 1924.Leaders of every Irish rebellion between 1798 and 1916 were incarcerated here.We took a 45 minute guided tour which shows you how the prison was run,the prisioners and conditions,there was no heating in the prison so take a jacket with you,some parts of the tour are awful they show you the yard where they executed them,there is also a museum showing letters the prisioners sent which was heartbreaking.
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.
If ever there was a sterotype of how the inside of an old-fashioned prison should look, then Kilmainham jail fits the bill.
The cells extend over four stories or so, built around a central couryard. the room is glass lined, which gives great natural light inside. This design also means that prison warders can easily 'scan' the whole area in moments. The warders used the central broad iron staicase, to move around the jail, whilst the prisoners had a much more enclosed, narrow and steep spiral staircase to use. It really is a masterpiece of design.
It is therefore not surprising that the jail has been used in a whole range of films and TV programmes over the years. It features in 'The name of the father' and 'Michael Collins' but also rather more oddly in 'The Face of Fu Manchu'.
In one of my favourites films, 'The Italian Job' (the original, not the silly Hollywood re-make) the jail was used for the famous Jail scene where the Crime-world boss Mr Bridger (played by Noel Coward) accepts the praise of the prisoners banging their plates on the bannisters following the news that the heist in Turin was a success.
Mr Bridger had given the go-ahead for the raid from inside the jail with the words "Well I hope he likes Spagetti, they serve if four times a day in Italian prisons"
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.
Bleak is the only word that comes to mind. I'm sure the prisoners might have had the same thought.
Kilmainham Goal was a great place to visit for me because I learned a lot about the many rebels who were jailed here and about the struggles for independence of this young country.
During the tour, you'll be taken to the this yard where children who were housed at the prison were allowed exactly one hour a day to exercise (not play). Ironically, this is also where the leaders of the Easter Rising were executed in 1916.
The foreboding stone entrance to the jail can get pretty busy in the summer time, so you might have to wait in line. However, when I visited on a cold day in mid-May there was no wait at all. They have family rates too, so call to inquire about this. I believe it's 11 euro for a family.
Kilmainham Jail is now the biggest unoccupied jail in Ireland. It opened in 1796, and closed in 1924. Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were detained here. Famous names like Robert Emmet, Thomas Francis Meagher, Charles Stewart Parnell, DeValera and all the leaders of the 1916 Rising, were all interned in the jail. At the execution of the 1916 leaders in Kilmainham jail they were blindfolded and a piece of paper cloth was put on each chest as a target. The soldiers then passed their rifles behind them to be loaded because one of the rifles was loaded with a blank round so none of them knew for sure that they had shot anyone.
A visit to the jail includes a guided tour and exhibition which will cost you €5. You can enter the jail without having the tour to see the exhibition it won't cost you anything.
Opening times are from April to September 9.30am to 5pm daily. October to March Mon to Sat 9.30 to 4pm.
Old Kilmainham Gaol (Jail), where political and other prisoners used to be held, is my top must-see for Dublin. In its partially renovated state, Kilmainham Gaol chilled me while the tour guide told stories of executions, child prisoners and overcrowding.
The jail has been used in movies like Michael Collins and Chicago. With knowledgable tour guides and even a slide show in the old jail chapel, the tour gives a great summary of Irish history. The guide even stayed and talked for a half hour after the tour's end and recommended books for further reading.
Between 1796 and 1924, this jail was not a pleasant place to be. The guided tour gives you a realistic view of the conditions for the inmates who were housed here. It also explains things in a historical context and gives you a good idea of what things were like on the outside too. For example, during the Irish Potato Famine, life was so hard on the outside that people committed petty crimes to get put in jail in order to ensure a meal.
I was glad to have visited on a cold and wet day because it gave me an idea of the cold and wet conditions experienced in the musty cells of the jail.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison, converted into a museum because of the role it played in the Irish history (as most revolutionary leaders where imprisoned and executed there). On your guided tour through the prison you learn the bitter history of the Irish and about the consequences of their fight for independence. The prison is divided into two wings, one of which is an old "dungeon like" jail, the other a modern (almost contemporary) prison. While exploring the architecture you hear many interesting stories about life and death, but not only... you learn about patriotism, friendship and love. The guides are great and they give a wonderfull narative throughout the whole tour.
After you are done you can do an interactive tour of the place, vote for or against capital punishment and see diferent artifacts left by the prisoners.
This is a very good exhibition that I recommed to everyone.
You can do this tour as a part of hop on and hop off tour or on your own - there is an easy access by buses: 51B, 78A, 79, 79A (all go from Aston Quay stop in City Centre -ask the driver where to get of) or the Luas Red Line (Suir Road).
Purchase tickets at the jail's ticket window or buy there an Ireland Heritage Card (admission is included along with eight other Dublin historical attractions). The free admission to the jail becomes included when you purchase the Dublin Pass.
This fascinating museum is a must see for anyone with an interest in late 19th century/early 20th century Irish history, one of the most tumultuous times in the history of the nation in which the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and The Civil War took place. Kilmainham Jail played a part in all of these events but is chiefly remembered as the place where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed.
Kilmainham Jail was opened in 1795 and at the time was outside the city walls. Dublin has of course grown since then and Kilmainham nowadays is a busy suburb of the city. There are excellent displays in the museum on life at the time in Ireland and a discussion of the roles of prisons in society at this time.
What attracts most people to the museum of course is its links with the Rising and the birth of the Irish Republic. The leaders of the Rising were all imprisoned here before being shot and you can see their cells as well as the yard where they were executed. Some of the stories from this time are incredibly sad. Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Rising was executed in the yard, having been married only hours earlier to Grace Gifford in the prison chapel. James Connolly, another of the leaders, was shot by firing squad despite not being able to stand up after injuries sustained in the Rising. When locals heard of the executions and these stories in particular it helped sway popular opinion in favour of the Rising and against British rule.
The main part of the prison has been used in many films including Michael Collins and In the Name of the Father. Here you can see Eamon De Valera’s (former Irish Taoiseach) cell as well as that of Grace Gifford, which contains a painting of the Madonna. There are regular tours from the front desk and it’s well worth joining one of this as they are informative and interesting. There is also a museum set on three floors.
Kilmainham Gaol today enjoys a certain "celebrity status" as its guest register since it opened in 1796 and closed in 1924 boasts most of the famous political heroes of the fight for Irish Independence.
Names such as Eamon De Valera, Joseph Plunkett, Mrs Joseph Plunkett amongst many others can be found over cell doors throughout the prison.
The history of Kilmainham and the stories that are recorded there make for an extremely interesting tour and the gaol is perhaps amongst the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin.
April - September: Daily 09:30 - 18:00 (last admission at 17:00)
October - March: Mon -Sat 09:30 - 17:30 (last admission at 16:30), Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00 (last admission at 17:00)
Average Length of Visit: 1.5 hours
Closed on the 24th, 25th & 26th December
Don't be put off by the long queue as it moves reasonably quickly.
For a taste of Irish history, particularly Ireland's fight for independence from Britain, visit Kilmainham Gaol. Leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 were imprisoned and shot here. Be sure to take the guided tour. The exhibits in the museum are also quite interesting and informative. Parts of the movies "In the Name of the Father" and "Michael Collins" were filmed in Kilmainham Gaol.
A MUSTTTTT to visit...
The guided tour is EXCELLENT (+/- 1 hour)
Known because of some famous/legendary people who were prisoned here.
Setting of famous films like In the name of the father, The Italian Job, Michael Collins,.. and is often used as music/recording/studio f.e. sinead o connor