Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol is a sobering reminder of Ireland’s fight for independence. Built in 1787, the damp cells of this former jailhouse held many prominent Irish nationalists before the gaol was closed down in 1924. Today, visitors can tour the eerie building and explore its storied past through a number of onsite exhibits.
Once one of Europe’s largest jails, Kilmainham Gaol and its bleak, echoing interior transports visitors to a time of Irish political upheaval. Take a guided tour of the gaol to learn about the prison’s history, gain valuable insight into the experiences of prisoners who were once held here, and peruse onsite exhibits detailing Irish history and the country’s long fight for independence from Britain—including the 1916 Easter Rising revolt in which 14 political prisoners were executed at the gaol. With the prison’s tumultuous past, it’s no wonder Kilmainham Gaol has featured in numerous ghost stories over the years—hear tales of the gaol’s resident hauntings and visit other creepy sites on a Dublin ghost tour. Or, visit Kilmainham Gaol on a hop-on hop-off bus tour to also see other city highlights such as the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, and the National Gallery.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only; visitors should arrive 15 minutes before their tour is scheduled to start.
- A café is located on the first floor, near the museum entrance.
- The ground floor of Kilmainham Gaol is wheelchair accessible; tours for limited-mobility visitors must be arranged in advance.
How to Get There
Kilmainham Gaol is located on Inchicore Road, roughly 20 minutes by road from central Dublin. The site does not have a dedicated public parking lot, but parking is available at the nearby Irish Museum of Modern Art. The gaol is also accessible via Dublin’s public bus system and the Luas tram.
When to Get There
The museum is open year-round, except December 24–25. Summer is the busiest time to visit, when visitors may experience long wait times. To avoid waiting, pre-book your tickets and opt for an early morning or weekday visit. Winter visitors should dress warmly; Kilmainham Gaol is not heated and can be very cold.
Movies Shot at Kilmainham Gaol
Film buffs will recognize the exterior of Kilmainham Gaol from movies such as The Italian Job (1969), The Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones (2000), and The Babe (1992). The jail’s interior was featured in Michael Collins (1996), starring Liam Neeson, and In the Name of the Father (1993), starring Daniel Day-Lewis.