For many traveling to Dublin, the one MUST see location is the Guinness Storehouse. However, for us it was the Kilmainham Gaol. (Gaol simply means jail.)
Once upon a time, not too long ago, the jail was where many Irish rebels’ lives ended fighting for independence from British ruling and played a pivitol role in gaining independence from the British monarch. The jail is now a museum with operating walking tours dispensing the history of this facility to the public.
Upon our 10am arrival in Dublin, we headed directly to the jail as our first experience. NO ONE was strolling the streets. In fact, we thought Dublin seemed like a ghost town, but apparently NOT at the Kilmainham Gaol. We quickly learned that several tour slots had already filled up. So, we signed up for the next available slot.
We are sure some travelers who come to see the jail find themselves out of luck.
So, if you are in Dublin and want to check this place out, arrive early or you too might be out of luck.
After the potato famine in 1845-1847, many Irish were not happy with the British controlling Ireland. From the despair and anger rose a group called the Irish Republican Brotherhood. This rebellious group found themselves in a bad situation when trying to take over major buildings in Dublin on Easter Monday of 1916, also known as the Easter Rising of 1916. Nearly one week later, the British eventually overcame them and the group surrendered. The men were later executed at Kilmainham Gaol. The tour gives insight to their cells and where some of them spent their final moments.
The men who were once thought of as nothing more than devious rebels became heroes in the eyes of the Irish, which turned the tide in attitude of Ireland fighting to be its own republic. In 1921 a Civil War began between the two factions of Ireland (those who were fine with being governed by the British monarch and those who were not). This sparked another revolution and in 1923 the Civil War came to an end and the last prisoner of Kilmainham Gaol was released in 1924, also the end of operation of the prison.
On the day we visited, it was a cold and windy day. The temperature was somewhere in the low-30 Fahrenheit range. Walking through the corridors of the facility not only gave us a sense of what it would have been like to be held captive in Kilmainham, but it also made us realize just how poor the insulation was – it must have been a miserable fate to spend time here.
If you would like to learn more about the jail and its history, you can view the visitor’s guidebook PDF online.
On a much lighter note, this location is often used for filming. Prior to leaving for Ireland, we watched one movie in particular, “In the Name of the Father,” that was filmed in the Kilmainham Gaol. This movie utilizes the interior of the prison to the degree that it is easily recognizable when viewing.
Stay tuned for Trippin’ in Dublin – Food, Folklore, Fairies, and Randomness