Kilmainham Gaol

KILMAINHAM GAOL

Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin. It closed its doors in 1924. Building began on the new gaol in 1786, and would cost the Grand Jury of the County of Dublin £22,000 by the time it was finished. The architect was John Trail (c. 1725-1801). The location chosen was Gallows Hill, near the site of the old gaol. The height of the land here meant that drainage would be better, and it was thought that fresher air would circulate through the gaol. In Ashford’s painting, seen here, the prison has just been built. The original two wings were still in situ, and the site was surrounded by pasture. Limestone and granite were chosen for the main building material. The gaolers lived in the central front block, while the two wings contained cells for the prisoners. Toilet facilities were confined to chamber pots inside the cells. Both warmth and light came only from candles, which were sparsely distributed (gaslight would later be installed in the 1840s).

Today the building symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and in some cases executed here. Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also detained in Kilmainham Gaol, guarded by British troops.

Names such as Henry Joy McCracken, Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, Charles Stewart Parnell and the leaders of 1916 will always be associated with the building. It should not be forgotten however that, as a county gaol, Kilmainham held thousands of ordinary men, women and children. Their crimes ranged from petty offences such as stealing food to more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts from many parts of Ireland were held here for long periods waiting to be transported to Australia.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum Dublin D08 RK28

Kilmainham Gaol Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28

About KILMAINHAM GAOL

Food rations per prisoner were very low during the Famine years. They were decreased further when it became apparent that people were committing crimes purely to gain entry to the Gaol, and for the chance to avail of regular food. Inmates were separated for exercise. The transportation yard contained two circles for walking. One was shared by those condemned to execution with those condemned to transportation. The other was used by those whose sentences were temporary. Women exercised in a smaller yard nearby. The children’s small exercise yard was also close by, but separate. All inmates were allocated one hour of outdoors activity per day.

Throughout the history of the Gaol, the vast majority of its population were ordinary criminals rather than political prisoners. When the Gaol first opened, half of all prisoners were debtors. The other crimes were divided between robbery, assault, rape, murder, bigamy, illicit distilling, and counterfeiting coins. Those who were found to be mentally disabled were also jailed, as were beggars.

Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only and is managed through timed tickets. Advance booking online is essential to guarantee entry. Cancellation tickets for the day will be released online every morning between 9:15am-9:30am.

Visitors should note that due to building maintenance work, there is no online booking for tours between 6 – 26 January 2020. Tickets for guided tours scheduled after 26 January will be available online from Monday 13 January.

Kilmainham Gaol
Dublin 8
Eircode: D08 RK28
Plus Code: 8MRR+P3 Dublin, County Dublin

Visit KILMAINHAM GAOL

Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only and is managed through timed tickets. Advance booking online is essential to guarantee entry. Cancellation tickets for the day will be released online every morning between 9:15am-9:30am.

Visitors should note that due to building maintenance work, there is no online booking for tours between 6 – 26 January 2020. Tickets for guided tours scheduled after 26 January will be available online from Monday 13 January.

Kilmainham Gaol Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28 8MRR+P3 Dublin

Kilmainham Gaol Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28

Direction to Cycle Dublin Bike Tours.