If you are looking for things to do in Dublin and are interested in learning more about Irish History during your stay then Kilmainham Gaol is the ideal place for you to visit. Dublin has a rich and fascinating history and much of it has connections with this popular tourist attraction. Here’s why you should make time to visit.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison turned museum located slightly outside Dublin City Centre. It was opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin and closed its doors in 1924. Throughout the 128 years it was open, it held thousands of prisoners behind its walls including some very famous Irish Revolutionaries who led the 1916 rising. The prison was not only a place to hold men, women and children accused of being law-breakers but also where some of them were executed by the British Army. Today the building is used as a museum and they run regular guided tours.
Upon its opening in 1796, it was one of the most modern prisons in Ireland. During the first half of the 19th century, the Gaol was used to house over 4000 prisoners who would eventually be shipped to Australia. Between 1845-1850 there was a huge population increase in the Gaol coinciding with the Great Irish Famine and leading to severe overcrowding. Many woman and children were incarcerated for petty crimes like stealing food for their starving families. In 1881 the prison became a male-only centre. This is just the tip of the iceberg of its fascinating history!
The first political prisoner to be detained was Henry Joy Mc Craken, a founder of the United Irishmen, who was hanged two years later. Other famous revolutionaries included Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell and many other heroes of the Irish Revolution of 1916 each with their own fascinating and often heart-breaking stories. Kilmainham Gaol was even home to one of Ireland’s most well-known and well-respected presidents, Eamonn DeValera, who happened to be the last prisoner before the closure of the gaol in 1924.
Kilmainham is located in a trendy area on the south side of Dublin. The Gaol is very accessible by public transport including bus, Luas and train. If you are travelling from Aspect Hotel Park West, it’s a short twenty minute drive and there is on-street car parking available outside. The area has a scattering of trendy cafes, quirky pubs and convenience stores on its doorstep. Kilmainham Gaol is open from approximately 9am-6pm year round (bar a couple of days over Christmas) but it is advisable to book a tour in advance as they get very busy. The guided tour takes about an hour and their informative and friendly guides are always happy to answer any questions you may have.
If you are planning a visit to Kilmainham Gaol but don’t want to pay inflated city centre hotel prices, stay at Aspect Hotel Park West. We offer luxury, comfort and affordability and we are very conveniently located for a sightseeing trip. Call our friendly reservations team for more details.