/ The Dublin Guide
Dublin — By Jessica Colley on April 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm
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Attention History Buffs: Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin

Dublin has a general reputation for being a city of music, Guinness, and craic. Once visitors arrive, they often discover that Dublin has a fascinating history as well. Political struggle in the last 100 years has brought devastation to the Irish people, from the Easter Rising of 1916 to the Civil War. 

While reading about these events is captivating, there’s nothing quite like seeing with your own eyes where historical events took place. No trip to Dublin would be complete without visiting the Kilmainham Gaol. This jail has significance throughout Irish history, and passionate tour guides will reveal the role the jail played throughout the centuries.

The jail is open 7 days a week, and tours are offered every 20 minutes. Small groups are led through the different sections of the jail, from the chapel to the solitary confinement cells to the yard where leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were shot to death. Learning about the Irish potato famine, the struggle for independence from Britain, and the Civil War puts Dublin in a new light.

I’ve taken the tour a few times now, at first during an early trip to Dublin, and since when I’ve had visitors in town. On every return trip I learn something f new that stays with me. For example, during the days of the potato famine, people wanted to be in jail, as they were guaranteed a meal. Children were jailed for petty crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread. Interestingly, a tour also shows the development of thought regarding incarceration, as the different wings show better living conditions and an interest in rehabilitation.

Above the door of the jail is where many hangings took place. If you don’t know this fact walking through the front door, it is a memorable experience walking out and gazing up. Not only does the jail have such important historical significance, but has also been used for several Hollywood films and even a music video by U2. 

After a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, thriving Dublin seems like an even more beautiful place for what it has endured in recent history.

Address: Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8. (map)

Photo Credit: Jessica Colley

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