October 2, 2007
Kilmainham Gaol (jail) is one of the must-see places in Dublin, in my opinion. Kilmainham Gaol was built in 1789 and restored during the ’60s. This jail is famous for housed many prisoners during the Irish Independence, including Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell. It functioned as a prison for 130 years, and the last prisoner (Eamon de Valera) was released on July 16, 1924.
You can take a cab/taxi, city bus, or tour bus to visit the facility. It’s only open for a guided tour. (fee) I took Dublin bus, which stops right in front of the building. To go back to the city center, you get on a bus at the stop located in the back of the building.
During the tour, you’ll see historical videos, photos, letters of prisoners and their families, dank cells, punishment cells and hanging room. All of them were very informative, and you can’t help but being emotional. The cells of some famous up-rising prisoners are marked with names. They were all about 5′x7′ size, and very dark and depressing.
The guide also takes you to the chapel, where Joseph Plunkett married to Grace Gifford hours before he was killed by the firing squad for his part in the 1916 Rising. You’ll also visit the prison yard, where Plunkett’s badly wounded colleague James Connolly was tied to a chair and shot to death.
Kilmainham Gaol: http://www.kilmainham-gaol.com/