During its 200 years of operation, this jail earned a reputation as one of the most brutal and barbaric institutions in Ireland. Visitors to the jail learn about the lives of prisoners, who were persecuted under anti-Catholic penal laws and were forced to endure harsh punishments and squalid conditions.
Wicklow Gaol can be visited as part of a day tour, during which participants can explore parts of the premises and meet costumed characters, such as Mary Morris the matron, and her husband the warden. Adult-only night tours featuring actors wearing period costume showcase the darkened prison at its eeriest. There are also paranormal tours of the prison that investigate ghostly activity.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wicklow Gaol is a must for anyone with an interest in the darker side of Irish history.
- A café and wine bar at the site is open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights.
- Night tours and paranormal tours are recommended only for those age 18 and over.
- Wicklow Gaol is not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Wicklow Gaol is about an hour’s drive south of Dublin city center via the M50 and N11. Car-free travelers can take the train to Wicklow station, which is about 1 mile (2 kilometers) away from the jail. Alternatively, Dublin Bus route 133 departs from Eden Quay in Dublin city center and stops at Wicklow Gaol.
When to Get There
Wicklow Gaol is busiest in summer, when many tour buses stop there. This is a mostly indoor attraction, making it an excellent rainy-day activity.
More to See and Do in Wicklow
On the eastern edge of Wicklow town overlooking the coast lie the scant ruins of Black Castle, a 12th-century Norman fortress. The promontory where the ruins sit affords excellent views of the coast. Another popular attraction that’s just 15 minutes’ drive from Wicklow Gaol is the 22-acre (9-hectare) Mount Usher Gardens, where trails wind alongside the River Vartry past a wide variety of trees and plants, including rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias, and eucalyptus.