About Kilmainham Jail

Kilmainham Jail, also spelt ‘Kilmainham Gaol’, in Dublin was a notoriously fearsome prison housing a mixture of common criminals and high profile political prisoners. Whilst originally built in 1780, the current incarnation of Kilmainham Jail dates back to the 1860s.

By the time it was closed in 1924, Kilmainham Jail had held and been the site of the execution of some of the most famous figures in Irish history, particularly those imprisoned in the fight for Irish independence. For example, after leading the ultimately unsuccessful uprising against the English in 1803, Irish nationalist Robert Emmet was held at Kilmainham Jail together with 200 of his followers. He was later executed.

Other famous inmates of Kilmainham Jail included Nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell, imprisoned there in 1881. In 1916, the members of the Easter Uprising were held there and executed in one of the prison’s exercise yards.

Today, Kilmainham Jail stands as Europe’s largest unoccupied prison. It now acts as a museum, offering visitors the chance to explore its history. Some of the sites can be quite gruesome in nature. In addition to the cells and exercise sections, visitors can see the block on which Robert Emmet was beheaded and the doorway where prisoners were hanged.

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