I know that lately we are having very cold weather here in Ireland. However, this shouldn’t stop you enjoying the amazing city of Dublin. There is much to see and discover here, because we fortunately live in a city full of history. Did you know that? You can use these days, when the weather is inadequate, to search for lovely indoor activities that will teach you everything about Dublin.

One of my favourites places and highly recommended by every guide book is a visit to Kilmainham Gaol. It is a very old prison that has seen important parts of the history of the independence of Ireland. Do you want to know why this jail is so important for Irish people? I will explain why immediately!

The key to understanding the turbulent history of Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol was inaugurated in 1769 and during that period was one of the most modern jails in Ireland. All kind of prisoners were imprisoned (and executed) there, but a huge group of them were involved in the fight for the Independence of Ireland.

The cells where the prisoners stayed were in terrible conditions, always in darkness and without any kind of heat source, so they were permanently wet and cold. In addition, in 1848 there was a terrible famine that caused people to be forced to steal food in order to survive. This made the prison crowded and the prisoners lived in even worse conditions.The guides say that, nevertheless, people preferred to be in jail, because at least they were ensured to receive some food.

Kilmainham Gaol was closed in 1924 and the last prisoner to be released was Éamon de Valera, who would later become president of Ireland. Furthermore, De Valera was the man who inaugurated the jail as a monument in 1966, so that nobody would forget the people that fought for Ireland.

In the 20th century the jail was very close to disappearing because it was not properly maintained. However, a group of volunteers restored it and today the jail is a historical monument and a very special place for Irish people.

Details about the visit

The prison is located on Inchicore Road in Dublin and it is open all year round (except the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December) from 9:30am – 5:30pm (January to December) and 9:00am – 6:45pm (June to September).

As the jail is an extremely busy attraction, the only way to visit it is by pre-booking online and selecting a specific date and time. But don’t worry, the process is very easy and you will gain access to Kilmainham Gaol through a very interesting guided tour that lasts 90 minutes. The tickets are only 4€ for students!

You can go by bus, using the following Dublin Bus routes: 69, 79, 13, 40: or by Luas, using the red line and stopping at Suir Road luas stop.

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