Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation from the 1780s to the 1920s. Attractions include a major exhibition detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration.

Located approximately three miles outside of Dublin city centre, it was built as a county gaol to house ‘common’ prisoners. Due to the many rebellions in Ireland during its operation, the gaol ultimately became a symbol of Irish Nationalism. Built in 1796 close to the site of the old Kilmainham Gaol, this new gaol was designed to ease the overcrowding and rampant disease found in the old gaol. Adopting the reform ideas put forth by John Howard, the new gaol focused on silence, separation, and supervision. The prisoners went from being held in one large room to being separated into…

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