Kilmainham Gaol

11 Nov

Kilmainham Gaol is located in Dublin 8, and once served at the county jail for Co. Dublin. It was originally built in the late 1790’s as a jail for common offences: begging, stealing, prostitution, ect.  The jail held men, women, and children for these various crimes, and public executions took place inside the main gates of the jail. After 1865, executions were no longer public for the community to witness. Instead, they took place in one of the inner exercise and labor yards. In 1881, the jail became an all male facility, until it closed in 1910.

However, Kilmainham is a key location during The 1916 Easter Rising and The War of Independence. Once the Irish Citizen Army surrendered and were arrested, many were sent to Kilmainham Gaol to be held.  Some of the most notable names from the 1916 Rising, such as Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett, were held here and executed shortly after their containment. While in the jail, I was in awe in being in the actual jail cells that belonged to people I have heard so much about in my time in Ireland. It was also interesting to learn that the movement was not popular with the majority of Irish citizens. Only when Pease, Connolly, and other rising leaders were educated did the attitude toward the Irish independence gain significant support.  Kilmainham Gaol also housed leaders of the Republican movement during The War of Independence. Leaders and members of the party who would only sign a treaty if it meant complete independence from Britain were sent to Kilmainham Gaol. Numerous members sent there were executed. However, Eamon de Valera was not executed and was the last prisoner released from Kilmainham in 1924.

After the War of Independence, the Gaol was closed until volunteers began restoring the Gaol to its former state. Today, it is run by the state and is viewed at a monument commemorating Irish Nationalism.


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