Kilmainham Gaol is a MUST when visiting the city.
The Mrs and I took a long weekend in Dublin - which is my first time in the city.
We did all the tourist things, walking tour etc but this was my favorite experience. Everywhere else we went tour guides and attraction organizers were so apathetic and they made so many historical mistakes.
At Kilmainham Gaol you got it all. An accurate and entertaining condensed outline of Ireland's personal and political history. These guys know what they are talking about and are able to be informative as well as entertaining. They were also perfect gentlemen. When a particular tourist asked 'So when did the civil war end', they were very polite in explaining without being patronizing. That showed more restraint than I could have mustered when asked that question.
If you're thinking about a visit, but don't know if you want to invest in the tour - Invest in it. While the museum is very informative and well displayed with some amazing artifacts - the tour is worth its weight in leprechauns gold.
I could go on all day about what you get to see and learn about, but just go. I can't recommend this any more.
This tour and visit continues to stand out in my mind as one of the most meaningful and eye opening things I've done in Ireland.
The tour guide we had was brilliant. She was passionate and well educated about the history. She answered any off script questions flawlessly, which was even impressive to my Irish history buff boyfriend from Dublin.
I learned so much about The Risings and this country's story in an hour. I walked away wanting to learn more!
I think if you come to Ireland to see the countryside, drink the pints, sit in the pubs, hear the music, and taste the food; you should also make time to know the history of it all.
Don't miss a great experience: visit Kilmainham.
Arriving at midday we had to wait almost an hour to get on a tour. The friendly OPW guide told us that most days are busy, they usually operate at full capacity.
As we started the tour we could see why, the guide was fantastic. She was enthusiastic and she was knowledgeable. After a short presentation in the chapel she led us through the jail. It was a mini whistle stop tour of Irish political history of the last two and a half decades.
It's hard to comprehend just how much of our history is tied up with this building. A must visit for locals and visitors alike.
Great tour. A must-see for anyone interested in Irish history!
Ive been four times now and will no doubt go again. Cant recommend enough! Apart from being my go-to tourist activity for visiting relatives, its educational, inspiring, looks pretty (if not spooky) and the tour guides seriously know their stuff. Bonus: Totally affordable! Make sure you get there a tour or two in advance as you cant pre-book
The tour was absolutely amazing. Very informative and I loved the walk through the foyer or main hall. There was an artist's display of bonnets and it showcased how many women were imprisoned. Very Cultured.
Out of all the things I went to see see in Dublin, I was most glad that I came here. I had no historical knowledge of Ireland, and the tour told me the story in an interesting way. It was a great way to get to know the city and the country, and made me appreciate where I was more. The gift shop is pretty sparse, but the museum was pretty interesting. They do the tours hourly, and you might have to get there a little earlier so that you don't have to wait for the next available tour or at least purchase in advance. The tour guides seem very genuine and passionate about their history. It was very worthwhile and I highly recommend it.
I was on a university sponsored trip when we took a tour here. We had a private tour, and then were able to explore on our own. "In the Name of the Father" was filmed here-that movie was based on a true story.
It is well preserved, and it provides insight into a different side of Irish history.
Attention tourists: if you can only see one attraction in Dublin...go to Kilmainham Gaol. (Pronounced Kil-main-im Jail) The jail itself is breathtaking, but more so are the stories and dark history that it contains. A visit here is Irish History 101. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and have an apparent passion for the jail. After a visit here, you'll have earned the inevitable pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse around the corner.
I'm so happy I took this tour. It was by far, one of the most interesting places I visited in Dublin. Like others, I didn't know much about this Kilmainham Gaol before my visit. I had been told by a relative that it was a must see, so I went.
The price of this tour is very reasonable. You'll learn a lot, guaranteed and the tour guide I had was excellent.
This place was definitely on my list as a spot to visit when I visited Dublin. I feel a little dense to admit I didn't know much about it prior to my visit, other than the fact that it was a must-see, but I am so glad we took the time to go. It's certainly a place I will never forget.
Our tour guide was very informative, consider that this is coming from someone who didn't know much about Irish history! She took the time to carefully explain everything, and I could tell she really knew her stuff. Everything was explained well, and I thought the tour was well worth it!
It is a little difficult to find if you are on foot though. I walked there from Temple Bar area which I don't recommend. I thought the walk might be nice... Make it easy on yourself and take a cab or bus. Also some stairs were very steep and worn, so if you have mobility concerns you may not want to take the full tour.
Planning my trip to Ireland, this place was never on the itinerary. It was only upon hearing a suggestion from a cab driver that we decided to pay it a visit on one of our last days in Dublin.
The tour is about an hour and a half. You learn a lot about the history of the jail, which was really fascinating to me. There's also ample time to cam whore during the tour.
P.S. If you're a student (or even if you've long been out of college and bring your student ID and try to get away with using it like I did) you get to pay only 33% of the admission price! (2 Euros compared to the regular 6 Euros)
Most tourists see the Guniess Storehouse, but we chose Kilmainham Gaol instead. Thankfully we enjoyed it and did not feel like we missed out. If you check in early, there is an exhibit to keep you busy before the tour starts. It was very informative and engaging. Would highly recommend!!
One of the top place tourists spots to go to. I had no idea what this place was about & I am very glad I was able to visit here & learn the history of it. It was quite eerie but still something one can never forget.
They take you on a tour, talks about the famous people that has been locked up in Kilmainham Gaol & what they have done, they bring up the youngest and eldest prisoner that entered the prison. They take you to different sides of the prison and its very interesting. The guide is very informative and tells you a very colorful story about its past. A definitely must see!
Dublin has its own Alcatraz attraction, and this is it as "gaol" is an Irish term for "jail". It hasn't been used as such since 1924, but the building retains the dramatic and realistic aura of a forbidding prison and gives you a sense of what it was like to have been confined in one of the tiny cells used for punishment and correction since 1796. For an admission fee of € 6, you get a guide who shares the alternately colorful and depressing history of the prison starting in the prison chapel where he tells the doomed romance between Irish nationalist Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford, who were married there in 1916 the day before he was executed and were allowed only an one-hour conjugal visit under the watchful eye of a guard.
You also get to see the large room that held Charles Parnell, a popular 19th-century political leader and apparently the uncrowned King of Ireland, who was allowed to be surrounded by ornate furnishings from his home. The most impressive sight on the tour is the expansive Victorian Wing that honestly looks more like an empty resort hotel lobby with a central stairwell and elevated walkways (see photos). The 90-minute tour ends in the prison courtyard where you are a given a pardon to catch the next hop-on, hop-off bus. By the way, it was raining sheets the day I visited causing havoc with my portable umbrella, but somehow the storm just added to the already haunting atmosphere of the place.
I was given the gift of the Dublin Pass....3 days of as much culture as i could master. My favourite place to visit was Kilmainham Gaol....the history and the atmosphere of this eerie place really made the visit well worth the wait ( we started to q at 2.10 and we were on the 4.20 tour, just to give you an idea of how long we waited). The tour guides all know their stuff....and give you a great sense of the history of the building, the conditions of the prison and the prisoners!
Good overview of the history of Ireland and the inhabitants that fought for its freedom. Much sadness resides in these walls and worth visiting. U will learn a but here and maybe even recognize it from old movies.
Brilliant! The best tour in the country. Really made me proud of my Irish history. Guy on our tour - Ciaran was clearly passionate about history. Brought everything to life.
Word of warning, wear warm clothes as it's freezing!
Was one of the only must see places for me and 3 friends during this Easter. We were on the first guided tour on Thursday. Really good and informative tour, very glad we did it! We even got in for €2 (student price) instead of 6, without showing any student cards, since none of us thought to bring it with us on the trip.
Only downside was a quite big group of Italian students were most didn't understand the guide, so he spoke really, really slow. A bit annoying in the end since none of us had any trouble understanding.
Very popular attraction in Dublin. We can around 11:30 and the 12:45 tour was already sold out, so we had to wait until 1:30. There's a museum and a tea shop on the premises so we decided to stick around until our tour.
The museum was very informative. We were able to get a good background history of the jail and some of its most notable prisoners. The tea shop was clean and served a good cup of coffee.
Our tour guide was polite and knowledgable as he took us around and told us all about the jail. We were shown a short video of the renovation of the jail and were given some time to tour some of the open cells on our own.
The whole tour took about an hour. All in all a good experience. Glad we went.
Great tour cheap price.
Tour was about an hour worth the money very interested tour. After an hour wanted to know more.
The Kilmainham Gaol is a hauntingly tragic place to visit. A strong sense of sadness permeates the atmosphere of the place, afterall this is the site of the imprisonment and execution of nearly all the leaders of the Easter Uprising in 1916.
If you don't know much about Irish History I would suggest you take a guided tour (about one hour) to learn the history of this site and its important role in the famine and the fight for Irish independence from the British.
The guided tour takes you through the chapel, the cells, the newer cell block and finally ends in the courtyard where the executions were carried out. The yard is marked with an Irish flag, a plaque and two crosses, One for the site of most of brutal killings and one for the place of the death of James Connolly who was so badly beat yp that he had to be strapped to a chair to be shot.
Movie buffs will recognise this place as one which has had many movies filmed here including one that I enjoyed a lot - The Italian Job!
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that, for the overwhelming majority of people, prison does not look like fun. And that's modern prison mind, with central heating, table tennis tables and the guards doing 'sensitivity training'. None of which are currently, or ever have been, features of Kilmainham Gaol.
Even the name is scary. The Angliscised version of Cill Mhaighneann somehow manages to, nearly but not quite, fit in a 'Kill' and 'Maim'. The 'Ham' kinda throws it, but the damage has already been done by the end of the first two syllables.
Then you go inside. The first, most striking and enduring feature of Killmainham is the cold. The teeth chattering, bone numbing, cold. It could be the height of summer, you could magically transport the entire complex to the Carribean, and it'd still be arctic graveyard cold.
The history of the place is drenched in blood, tragedy, abject misery, cold, more misery and the odd bit of burnt cold porridge. But that was all before it became a political prison.
Things changed after that. There were less child prisoners for a start, less women too, so basically any remaining light or happiness was removed and shipped off to Australia. Cue more misery and throw in a few scurrilous executions for good measure.
On a side note, the film Mean Machine was shot here. And messing aside, it's one of the most fascinating tours Dublin has to offer. But bring a jacket.
This place never warms up, no matter how warm the sunshine is in Dublin. If you are Irish born or of Irish descent, your pride and emotion will take you over as you hear this song reverberate in your heart and mind while visiting this place and you will wish you had one single ounce of the courage of the famous Irish Rebels who were murdered here. Complacency is the word of the day.
Hallowed ground. The tour takes you through one of the chapels, the old cell blocks, and into the main "new" wing with it's creepy panopticon vibe, which gets creepier when the guide explains the drive to make sure the prisoners were deliberately made to feel that they were under constant observation.
There are good interpretive exhibits that go beyond the boring static "This belonged to so-and-so...and THIS belonged to a DIFFERENT so-and-so...and THIS..." and make use of some multimedia to bring various stories to life. The static exhibits that exist are well curated and bring some great light into the spirit of the prisoners there. Be prepared to cry when you read the last letter written from a prisoner to his mother hours before his execution.
I especially liked the fact that the exhibit areas did a good job of pointing out the various points of view of the history of Irish nationalism and the Free State vs. Republican debate without taking sides. As of this writing there is a nice temporary exhibit featuring information about restoration of the gaol by volunteers from both sides of the civil war.
Be warned-there are some very evocative displays, from calculations of the length of rope needed to hang somebody to the simple black crosses marking where the instigators of the 1916 Uprising where executed by firing squad. May not be great for kids.
Bottom Line: "Mother I would just love one look at all the faces at home, yours above all, but seemly that is denied me..." J. Fisher.
It is hard for me to write about Kilmainham. I went months ago and am now finding time to do it. It had been on my to-do list for months when I moved here as it plays an important role in what I am studying over here. So I took my time getting there. In fact, six months flew by before one of my housemates quite literally dragged me to it and I am so grateful she did.
For a landmark of such importance, the admissions price is really reasonable: 4 euros for adults, 2 for children and students; and it is worth every penny. Despite tales of waiting for hours to get a guided tour, we got one only about half an hour after we arrived and took the chance to look around the museum. It is filled with great personal objects from both normal people and some of the great heroes of the fight for Irish independence. The two things which struck me the most was Charles Stewart Parnell's wedding ring and a letter from some unsung foot soldier who was 18 to his mother the night before his execution. There is also tons of fascinating blurbs about prison statistics, the famine, and mugshots from some of the people held there over the years it was an active prison.
Now on to the tour itself. The tour guide we had (and I am sure all of the others as well) was a wealth of information. He lead us through the tiny halls, by cells which held people like the above mentioned C.S. Parnell, Eamon DeVelera, the Uprising Leaders, and many others, filling our heads with personal fact, important moments from the prison, and in some ways delightful stories about who these people were. He somehow made the prison come to life and helped illustrate the importance of it as a historical entity. He even willingly chatted with me about my thesis, books I could read on the subject and offered to be interviewed later. What a way to go above and beyond.
While I loved the whole tour, the part which was the most powerful for me was the Stone Cutter's Yard, where the Uprising Rising leaders were executed for treason.
That one little yard plays such an important role in the history of Ireland. It is amazing to stand there and see one of the big turning points in the struggle for Irish Independence. It is kind of amazing.
Even those who are not hard core history fanatics will find this interesting and a couple of hours well spent. It is not to be missed.
Outstanding historical site.
Of course the facility itself is compelling, and both the guided tour and the exhibit space are excellent. The latter is very informative, covering various aspects of prison life as well as, on the second floor, a political history of the jail with a particular focus on 1916-1923. Similarly, the guided tour also concentrates on that span, from the Easter Rising to the end of the Civil War. This was unexpected but very welcome, as that period is so important to the modern Irish consciousness and represented a moderate fuzziness in my knowledge of Irish history.
The tour guide provided a confident narration which did not seem overly polished or rehearsed. She highlighted several of the famous former inmates of the jail, such as Eamon de Valera and Charles Stewart Parnell, not to mention the ringleaders of the Easter Rising and the couple who wedded in the jail chapel just hours before the groom was hanged.
This site is a little bit west of the city centre, but after the castles, cathedrals, and illuminated manuscripts, a visit to Kilmainham Gaol is a very meaty piece of sightseeing.
This is one of the best places to visit in Dublin. I only had a day there, and I'm glad I stopped here. The Guinness Storehouse is fun and OMGfreepint!1 (no, but really, the Gravity Bar is pretty awesome). But the Gaol is imperative if you want to understand the significance of the modern Irish state.
The museum on the ground floor - before the tour - is nicely laid out and has a great deal of information on Ireland in the 1700s and 1800s (mostly). White-haired, bearded Micheal was our tour guide, and he was incredible. You can tell that he felt very strongly about Irish nationalism, but he led the tour with a good mix of emotion and facts. It was easier to get the complete picture as to what happened when, as well as how people interpret the former!
The gaol is meticulously restored, and I hope it's not too inappropriate to say that I found the large open area very architecturally compelling. In a different way, the courtyard was compelling, since visitors get to see the courtyard where many founders of the Irish Republic were executed.
Although it's a bit "off the beaten path" (maybe just for tourists staying near St. Stephen's Green, ahem), I cannot recommend enough Kilmainham Gaol for your Dublin visit!
If you would like to learn a bit of Dublin history, go to Kilmainham Goal.
The tour starts with a video presentation, your tour guide then walks you around the prison stopping with anecdotal stories along the way which are fiercely interesting.
The old structure itself is impressive - please note their warnings of holding handle rails when decending stairs however... for me 300 year old cement stairs and slippery shoes equalled me falling, and giving myself a bit of a blackout (eeck). I will say when I so dumbly hurt myself the staff was incredibly attentive and guided me out immediately when I asked to have them order me a taxi, which arrive minutes later.
Thankfully I was living in Dublin, so I did go back in better shoes a couple of months later (when I was sure no one would recognize me as the girl who fell) to finish the tour, and the guide I had that go was fantastic as well.
This is simply a must do when visiting Dublin.
Kilmainham Gaol is a haunting place, containing rich history. The jail homes acts of real horror carried out by the brutal British Soldiers during the times of Irish struggles. Savage acts including the prompt execution of Joseph Plunkett, only 10mins after marrying his bride in his cell for his participation in the 1916 uprising. The execution of James Connelly who was so badly wounded he could not even stand to take his death with dignity for his participation in the same rising. Men, women and even children we forced to live in horrendous conditions, were forced to live in non segregated cells. Yet with such a terrible history, out came hero's from this Gaol of terrible beauty... Kilmainham Gaol is a must visit while in Dublin, and indeed should be a compulsory visit, especially if you are from Dublin!
The gaol offers tours, which are made up of free 90 minute guided tours, excellent, and very informant, and not as morbid as I might sound. An adult single will cost you €6 and a family ticket €14, which is fantastic value. An exhibition in the main hall and a video also outlines the history of the Goal
Kilmainham Gaol was one of the main locations used in the films 'In The Name Of The Father', 'Michael Collins' and also used as the location for the music video "A Celebration" by U2 (1982) so it has it place in popular culture too.
Reminded me of the tour of Alcatraz. Its very erie but full of history. Our tour guide was very knowledable. Its a bit out of the way from the city center and in a confusing location, so I don't recommend trying to walk there. We got lost trying to find this place on foot on day 1. We had better luck finding it by taxi on day 2. Do the hop on hop off bus tour or cab it. It cost about 7 Euro from city center by taxi.
Getting back to city center is pretty easy. Just exit the main entrance, turn right, right & right again and take any public bus at the bus stop. They all go to city center for 1.60 Euro.
Note: all my recent vacation in Ireland Yelp reviews will have the same 1st paragraph preamble, for just the review itself skip to the 2nd paragraph.
On a whirlwind 2 week vacation to Ireland, the girlfriend & I tried to see & experience absolutely as much of this incredible land as we could. We did not accomplish every last activity we wished we could have on our rather ambitious itinerary. Nonetheless, we did discover a land of numerous stunning & magical wonders. We did see a land of unending natural beauty. We did learn of a land with a monumentally long history of trials, tragedies & triumphs. We did get to meet many kind, humorous, warm & generous people. Our vacation to Ireland was just 2 weeks, but that was time enough to know this is a land easy to love & a land to be sorely missed.
Kilmainham Gaol is a fascinating & significant piece of Irish history. Though this prison has seen many hardships & dark times, including the Great Famine, its role in the 1916 Easter Rising was the most momentous.
A horrible place when it was in operation, the prison was completely neglected after it was abandoned but Kilmainham Gaol is now very well restored. There is a museum area that spans 3 floors & a tour winds through many historically important areas of the prison. Together, these convey a vivid sense of how bleak it once was inside & even outside the prison walls. When the tour I had taken concluded, I could feel the whispers of the start of something nearly a century before. This was where the spark that would eventually lead to the birth of a nation had been touched off.
We all are, to some extent, a product of what came before us. To truly appreciate this land, a visit to Ireland would not be complete without going to Kilmainham Gaol.
Guides are by tour guide only, and you may have to wait awhile to get your tour, but it is worth the wait! The Gaol has a lot of history in political aspects (Easter Rebellion and the executions), social aspects (number of prisoners allow you to see what was going on in Ireland at the time) and architecturally (one of the first of its kind to have individual cells and also had no glass in the windows), so it is a great thing to see while in Dublin.
If you do need to wait there is a great museum to the left after the entrance where you can look at a lot things from the history to renovation.
I really don't know how to rate this place. If you're a history buff, you're gonna love it. The city has remodeled it impecabbley and the stories behind it are incredible. There is a museum inside that really explains everything into depth and gives you a nice synopsis of what you're gonna see on the tour.
My biggest concerns:
1) The tour was boring. It was cold outside and I stood outside shivering. I know this is my fault...but the tour itself was just simply boring. And there were too many people in my tour group. They split us in two...which helped things, but it didn't make up for the fact that I was falling asleep standing up.
2) One should book in advance. My hotel did not tell me that it was TOURS only...and they also said it was a 20 minute walk. Well, an hour and a half later, I arrived there only to find out you can only see the jail with a tour. Ok...cool...except I had to wait almost 2 hours for a tour. AND there is hardly anything around the area to keep one occupied. They do have a tea room there, but it was so crowded I had nowhere to sit...so it wasn't even an option.
What I would suggest is if you love history and are a "touristy-tourist", it's a must see...but if you're more like me and feel like you learn more about a culture and place by the local bars and pubs...I would forego seeing this place.
So yeah ... prison. How's that going for you?
Kilmainham Gaol is actually a great place to go. At first, I didn't really care too much to go since I'm thinking " Prison = metal bars = NO FUN."
This was actually really interesting to go to. Definitely the best part was the fact that all the tour guides are knowledgeable and very upbeat and can manage to tell a historical story without it sounding like a terrible social studies class.
Sure, the historical nature of it all is quite depressing, but it is actually fascinating to know that there is so much history and groundbreaking things that were started here.
Definitely worth it to come here. The hour and a half tour does not feel like it whatsoever.
A powerful reminder that the path to independence and freedom starts in dark, cold and miserable jail cells and not always on the battlefield. It is amazing to think of the determination of those seeking Irish Independence in these bleakest of surroundings. This is a profoundly moving experience in understanding the path to Irish Independence. Some of the greatest names in the foundation of the Irish Republic have left their mark here. De Valera, Parnell, you'll see their rooms on the tour here. Pay close attention to some of the artwork inside the cells.
I was surprised at how small things were here. This old portions of this prison accommodated 20 times the inmates of our former county prison where I live at times and was a fraction of the size. It's also very drafty and cold. We gained entrance with our Dublin Pass.
This place is amazing.
I went on the last tour of the evening, and with it being winter it was dark at 4.30pm. Take a coat, a camera and your nerves.
The tour guide did a great job telling the tale of prisoners past. I felt like I was transported back in time and could see the hangings, the beatings and the firing squad in the yard.
This jail has been the scene for movies such as the Italian Job, and a recording studio session for U2.
I don't believe in ghosts, but there was a spooky feeling about the place and one of my pics had a bunch of crazy white orbs in them that skeptics like me normally contribute to dust. It's just that they were right in the doorway of the photograph and solid white, not translucent. Weird.
Bring your student ID if you have one for 2 euro entry.
Definitely a must see.
When I was abroad studying Modern Irish History during the Summer of 2009, my group actually almost missed out on the chance to visit Kilmainham. There was some sort of a misunderstanding on the part of our instructor and the Gaol reservation staff. However, they were able to fit us in with another group at the last minute. And I am so glad that everything worked out because...my trip to Ireland would not have been the same if I had not seen the Kilmainham Gaol.
After all, how can you learn about all of the historic figures who fought so hard for Ireland's independence without seeing firsthand what suffering they endured for standing up for what they believed was right? While our tour guide was very informative, I almost feel like just walking through the gaol is informative in its own right...the quarters the prisoners were subject to, getting to see the small jail chapel, the execution grounds...it is almost even hard for me to really review. If you go to Dublin, you need to experience Kilmainham for yourself.
Fun fact: Kilmainham Gaol has been featured in a bunch of different films. And because it has such a distinctive design, you'll instantly recognize it if you see it used as a film set. That winding staircase and straight diagonal staircase design in the newer wing is ingenious, and also served as a way to ensure that prisoners had a difficult time escaping.
Kilmainham Gaol. to me, is the quintessential historic site for any tourist visiting Ireland and for any local to learn about the cost of Irish freedom.
The tour guides are insanely well educated and knowledgable. The gaol itself is well maintained, but in disrepair enough to give you an idea of how it would be an undesirable place to be. Also, having played host to several movie filmings, this site is recognizable to any movie buff.
Haunting and without apology, Kilmainham Gaol is a site that one will not forget soon.
First of all, the word is spelled "jail" not "gaol." Now that we've gotten that out of the way....
A decent place to visit. Definitely one of the more interesting things to do in Dublin (which is not exactly saying a lot). I learned a lot about Irish history here, which was good. It's also fascinating to see how absolutely crappy the cells were... they make Alcatraz in San Francisco look like a palace. The tour ends on a fairly morbid note, showing you where the executed prisoners were shot. Pretty interesting stuff.
It's a little chilly inside, so bring a jacket.
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