Kilmainham Gaol: 5 Facts You Need to Know

The Kilmainham Gaol

There is a lot to see and do while in Dublin,Ireland, but The Kilmainham Gaol is a must. Ireland is one of the

inside kilmainham gaol

inside Kilmainham Gaol

richest nations in history, historical sites, historical artifacts and in their landscapes. Worrying about what to do in Dublin is not only understandable but also relatable in light of the rich culture the posses.

Choosing to explore the history of Ireland via visiting historical sites and viewing historical artifacts has to be the best way to experience Dublin in all of its glory.  The sheer number of evidence of life that existed many many centuries before this time would prove to be almost more than you can bear.

Visiting the different historical sites that abound in Dublin would be a sort of spiritual experience for you. It’s almost like walking and living beside the people past for one second and experiencing with them the joys and hardship of their lives. Don’t fret about what to do in Dublin when there are wonderful historical sites, sites with a  deep story and so much character like the Kilmainham Gaol.

Here are a few need to know facts about the Kilmainham Gaol


1.Do you know what the Kilmainham Gaol is?

If you have not read historical books before or really had much of an interest in history, you might not be able to tell what the Kilmainham Gaol is just from hearing it’s name. However, if you are a history buff, then you must have rightly guessed that the Kilmainham Gaol is a prison, a medieval prison. Or it used to be. Now, the Kilmainham Gaol is a museum for tourists like you to visit.


2.Brief History of the Kilmainham Gaol

The Kilmainham Gaol was built in the 17th century precisely in 1796 and it was run by the Grand Jury of Dublin. The new prison was built to replace the last one and was often called the new goal to distinguish it from the old one. A lot of Irish revolutionaries met their end at the Kilmainham Gaol at the bequest of the British rulers.

Known for its terribly dirty and disgusting living conditions, the goal was home to a lot of criminals, female, male and even children, some of them as young as ten years old. The goal had no divisions based on sex and most often the males and females were incarcerated together in an often overcrowded room.


3.The male criminals were better treated than their female counterparts


It was a sad but true fact. The male and female prisoners  were not only kept together, the female prisoners were treated considerably worse than the male prisoners. Case in point was the bedding. The male prisoners often got to sleep on metal cots while their female counterparts slept on the floors or on straw. The women were not given the same treatment as the men and for people who claimed to be chivalrous and respectful towards women, this double standard and horrible treatment is shocking.


4.Prisoners were usually hung outside the Kilmainham Gaol

Public executions were a thing some centuries ago. It offered some sort of morbid fascination to the crowd of people and so it was used both as a means of ensuring that the people obey the rules of the land and to cultivate a certain amount of fear in them. From the guillotine to the beheadings, public executions were the rage and it wasn’t any  different in Dublin in the 17th and 18th century. Prisoners sentenced to death by hanging were shamefully hung before a crowd. Although after a while, when there wasn’t a lot of need for the hang man’s noose, a small hanging nook was created and incorporated into the design and blueprint of the Kilmainham Gaol.


5.The restoration of the Kilmainham Gaol

Operations at the Kilmainham Gaol stopped in 1924 when the government of the time discontinued it’s use because the image it portrayed did not fit in with the message he wanted his government to stand for. After that the building was left decrepit and in  disrepair until a move was made for its restoration in 1958. Finally, after so much lobbying by the historical society, the funds were finally released for its renovation and care. After years of hardwork by both paid staff and volunteer workers, the kilmainham goal was finally open to the public in 1971. It has since then been used as a tourist attraction.


Kilmainham Goal Tickets

guided tour only

Adult TicketChild Ticket (12-17 yrs)Child Ticket (Under 12 yrs)Family Ticket – 2 Adult and 2 Children (12-17 yrs)Family Ticket – 2 Adult and 3 Children (12-17 yrs)Senior Ticket 60+Student Ticket (18+)

No fee for kids under the age of 12. Get a valid  ticket to gain entrance.

All kidsunder the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Students must produce valid student identification on arrival.




Kilmainham Goal Opening times

1 May – 30 September1 October  – 30 April
Monday08:45 – 19:00Monday09:30 – 17:30
Tuesday08:45 – 19:00Tuesday09:30 – 17:30
Wednesday08:45 – 19:00Wednesday09:30 – 17:30
Thursday08:45 – 19:00Thursday09:30 – 17:30
Friday08:45 – 19:00Friday09:30 – 17:30
Saturday08:45 – 19:00Saturday09:30 – 17:30
Sunday08:45 – 19:00Sunday09:30 – 17:30

Different time table on Good Friday and Bank Holidays in Ireland

New Years DaySt Patrick’s DayGood FridayEaster MondayMay DayJune HolidayAugust HolidayOctober HolidayChristmas DaySt Stephens Day
09:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:3009:30 – 17:30



Visiting Kilmainham Jail with Kids

The Kilmainham Gaol is a jail, so it’s far from being one of the fun things to do in Dublin. Please be aware, that this popular Dublin attraction  may even be a bit frightening for younger kids. But we do recommend to bring older kids. If your kids are in history and want to learn more, then this visit is a must.

Not only is Kilmainham Gaol the largest preserved Victorian jail in Europe, it is historically significant part Ireland and its hard way to independence from Britain. The experienced tour guide will revealed important facts, stories and will help you to learn more. About the past that will enrich you and your  understanding of the Irish culture.



Dublin Kids Tips:

  • we  advance to book your tickets online in advance as tickets sell out quickly
  • arrive 15 minutes before your allocated tour time.
  • You can print your tickets at reception on arrival.
  • those, who hope to show up and get in, most likely get disappointed. There are very little walk-in tickets available  on the day. Walk-in tickets are sold on a first come first served basis.
  • Heritage Card holders are also recommended to book in advance and must show a valid Heritage Card on arrival to be granted free access.
  • A maximum of 9 tickets may be purchased on-line.
  • To make a group booking, or to avail of a free educational school visit please e-mail
  • Wheelchair users and visitors with mobility issues must contact us directly:




The Kilmainham Gaol was a place of terrible suffering, oppression and hopelessness in the late 17th and early 18th century. It was used by the British to put to an end the lives of the Irish revolutionaries who fought for the freedom of Ireland. It was a dark time in Dublin but from it has emerged this beautiful place whose walls echo with the stories of the people who had lived there and in some way, their ghost can be laid to rest now that their stories have been heard. If you have been to Dublin and not visited the Kilmainham Gaol, please do and if you haven’t visited Dublin, also make out some time for that. It’s an experience you would not want to miss. Although dismantled now, it would give you an idea of the horrors that existed within those walls just a few centuries ago.


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