Kilmainham Gaol (Irish: Príosún Chill Mhaighneann ) is a former prison in Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland. It is now a museum run by the Office of Public Works, an agency avIrlands government. Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, imprisoned and executed in prison by the British.


When it was first built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol was called “New Gaol” to distinguish it from the old prison that is intended to replace – a foul dungeon, just a few hundred meters from the present site. It was officially called theCounty Gaol, Dublin , and was originally operated by the Grand Jury of County Dublin.

Originally, public hangings took place at the front of the prison. [1] However, from the 1820s onwards, very few hangings, public or private, took place at Kilmainham. [1] A small hanging cell built in the prison in 1891. It is located on the first floor, between the West wing and the east wing.

There was no segregation of prisoners; men, women and children were incarcerated for up to five in each cell, with only a single candle for light and heat. Most of his time was spent in the cold and dark, and every light had to last for two weeks. Its cells was about 28 square meters in area. [1]

Children are sometimes arrested for shoplifting, the youngest is said to be a seven year old child, [1] , while many of the adult prisoners were transported to Australia.

Kilmainham on the poor conditions in which female prisoners were subject to the spur of the next stage of development. Remarkably, for a time that prided itself on a protective setting for the “weaker sex”, conditions for female prisoners were constantly lower than for men. Already in his 1809 report, the inspector had observed that male prisoners were provided with iron beds while females “lay on straw on the flags in the cells and common rooms.” Half a century later, there was little improvement. The women department, located in the west wing, remained full.

After independence period

Kilmainham Gaol was decommissioned as a prison by the Irish Free State government in 1924. [2] mainly seen as an area of oppression and suffering, it was at this time not declared interest in its preservation as a monument to the struggle for national independence. Prison potential function as a place of national memory was also undercut and complicated by the fact that the first four republican prisoners executed by the Free State government during the Irish Civil War was shot in the prison yard. [3]

The Irish Prison Board was considering reopening it as a prison during the 1920s, but all such plans was finally abandoned in 1929. In 1936, the government considered the demolition of the prison, but the price of that commitment was seen as prohibitive. Republican interest on the site began to develop from the end of the 1930s, especially with the proposal of the National Graves Association, a republican organization, to preserve the site as both a museum and memorial to the 1916 Easter Rising. [4] This proposal received no objection from the Commissioners of Public Works, which costed at £ 600, and the negotiations were concluded with the Ministry of education about the possibility of moving objects relating to 1916 rises housed in the National Museum to the new museum at Kilmainham Gaol place. Department of Education rejected this proposal, see the site as unsuitable for this purpose, and suggested instead that the paintings of nationalist leaders can be installed in appropriate prison cells. But with the advent of Emergency proposal was shelved during the war. [5]

An architectural study Office of Public Works after World War II showed that the prison was in a ruinous state. With the Department of Education is still adamant to the site’s transformation into a nationalist museum and without other apparent function of the building, the Commissioners of Public Works proposed only the prison yard and the cell blocks that are considered of national importance should be preserved and that the rest of the site should be demolished. This proposal has not been acted upon. [6]

In 1953 Prime Minister’s Office, as part of the system to create jobs, revised draft National Graves Association to restore the prison and establish a museum at the site. However, no advances have been made and the material conditions of the prison continued to deteriorate. [7]

Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society

From the late 1950’s a grassroots movement for the preservation of Kilmainham Gaol began to develop. Provoked by reports that the Office of Public Works received bids for the demolition of the building, Lorcan CG Leonard, a young engineer from the north side of Dublin, along with a small number of like-minded nationalists, formed Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society in 1958 to compensate for any disruption among its members society agreed that they should not take any of the events associated with the Civil war period in relation to the restoration project. Instead, a story about uniform national struggle would be articulated. A system was then designed to the prison to be restored and a museum built using volunteer labor and donated materials. [8] [9]

With the momentum of the project grows, Irish Congress of Trade Unions informed the community that they would not object to their plan and construction Council gave its support. It is also likely that the Dublin Corporation, which had shown interest in the preservation of the prison, supported the proposal. At this time the Irish government came under increasing pressure from the National Graves Association and old IRA Literary and Debating Society to take steps to preserve the site. Thus, when society left its plan in late 1958 that the government looked favorably on a proposal that would achieve this goal without creating any significant financial commitment from the state. [10]

In February 1960 society’s detailed plan for the restoration project, which among other things also thought the site’s development as a tourist attraction, got the approval of the notoriously stingy Department of Finance. The formal handover of the keys in prison to a board consisting of five members appointed by the community and two of the government occurred in May 1960. The managers were charged a nominal rent of a penny rent per year to extend a period of five years, at which time it is thought that the restored prison would be permanently transferred to the trustee “custodial care. [11] [12]

Starting with a workforce of sixty volunteers May 1960 [13] society set about clearing the overgrown vegetation, trees, fallen masonry and bird droppings from the site. By 1962 flagship prison yard where the leaders of the 1916 uprising were executed had been cleared of rubble and weeds and the restoration of the Victorian part of the prison completed. [11] The final restoration of the site in 1971 when Kilmainham Gaol chapel was re-opened to the public have reroofed and refloored and with its altar reconstructed.The Magill family functioned as residential caretakers, especially Joe Magill who worked on the restoration of the prison from the beginning to the Gaol was handed over to the Office of Public Works. [14]

It now houses a museum on the history of Irish nationalism and offers guided tours of the building. An art gallery on the top floor exhibits paintings, sculptures and jewelry of prisoners incarcerated in prisons throughout contemporary Ireland.

Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe. [ Citation needed ] now empty of prisoners, it is filled with history. It has been aptly described as the ‘Irish Bastille “. [ Citation needed ]

historical significance

Edmund Wellisha, chief guard at the prison, was convicted in nourishing prisoners to support upproret.Sedan its restoration has Kilmainham Gaol understood [ by whom? ] As one of the main Irish monuments of modern times in relation to the story of the fight for Irish independence. During the time period that extends from its opening in 1796 to its disappearance in 1924, it has been, except for the notable exception of Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins, a place of detention of any major Irish nationalist leaders of both constitutional and physical violence traditions. Thus its history as an institution closely connected with the history of Irish nationalism. The majority of the Irish leaders in the rebellion in 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were imprisoned there. There are also prisoners during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and many of the anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War period. Charles Stewart Parnell was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, along with most of his parliamentary colleagues in 1881-1882 when he signed the Kilmainham Treaty with William Gladstone. [15]

Former prisoners

Cell in Éamon de Valera.

  • Henry Joy McCracken, 1796
  • Oliver Bond, 1798 (Bond, born in St Johnston, County Donegal, was to die in prison).
  • James Bartholomew Blackwell, 1799
  • James Napper Tandy, 1799
  • Robert Emmet, 1803
  • Anne Devlin, 1803
  • Thomas Russell, 1803
  • Michael Dwyer, 1803
  • William Smith O’Brien, 1848
  • Thomas Francis Meagher 1848
  • Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, 1867
  • John O’Connor Power, 1868
  • JE Kenny, 1881
  • Charles Stewart Parnell, 1881
  • William O’Brien, 1881
  • James Joseph O’Kelly 1881
  • John Dillon, 1882
  • Willie Redmond, 1882
  • Joe Brady (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Daniel Curley, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Tim Kelly, (the Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Thomas Caffrey, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Michael Fagan, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Michael Davitt
  • Patrick Pearse, 1916
  • Willie Pearse, (younger brother of Patrick Pearse) 1916
  • James Connolly (run, but not held at Kilmainham) 1916
  • Conn Colbert, 1916
  • Constance Markiewicz, 1916
  • Éamon de Valera, 1916
  • Paul Galligan, 1916
  • John MacBride 1916
  • Joseph Plunkett, 1916
  • Michael O’Hanrahan 1916
  • Edward Daly, 1916
  • Grace Gifford, (wife of Joseph Plunkett) (1922)
  • Ernie O’Malley, during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War
  • Peadar O’Donnell, during the Civil War
  • Frank McBreen, during the War
  • Thomas MacDonagh 1916
  • Thomas Clarke, 1916
  • Mairead De Lappe, during the Civil War. (Mother program Mr Mac Aonghusa)
  • Madeleine ffrench-Mullen, 1916


The following movies have been filmed at Kilmainham Gaol:

  • The Quare Fellow 1962
  • The Face of Fu Manchu , 1965 (starring Christopher Lee)
  • The Italian Job , 1969
  • The Mackintosh Man , 1973
  • The Last Remake of Beau Geste , 1977
  • The Whistleblower , 1987
  • Babe , 1992
  • In the Name of the Father , 1993
  • Michael Collins , 1996
  • Adventure The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (2000) – Love Sweet Song
  • The Escapist , 2008 (starring Brian Cox)
  • The Price of Freedom 2006

A music video for the U2 song “A tribute” was filmed in Kilmainham Gaol in July 1982. The prison was also used in the 2012 BBC series Ripper Street and 2011 series of ITV’s Primeval .


More images in Wikimedia Commons

  • Prisoner crafts in Kilmainham Jail Museum.
  • A view of Patrick Pearse cell.
  • Mural painting of a Madonna painted by Grace Gifford Plunkett while she held during the Civil War.
  • Robert Emmet’s cell door.
  • A view of the landing where in 1916 the leaders were held before they are implemented.
  • The view from the prison farms.
  • The view from the prison farms.
  • Cross marks the site of the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
  • Cross marks the site of the execution of James Connolly.
  • Plaque marking the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
  • Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol, five snakes in Chains above the entrance.

See also

  • Prisons in Ireland


  1. ^ Jump up to: abcd “Kilmainham Jail, Dublin”. Pulled 06/28/2013.
  2. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 186. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  3. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4). 186-87 doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  4. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 188. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  5. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 189. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  6. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 190. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  7. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4). 190-91 doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  8. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (2007). “National identity and tourism in the twentieth century Ireland: the role of collective re-imagining”. In Michael Young, Eric Zuelow and Andreas Sturm (eds). Nationalism in a Global Era: Persistence of Nations .London: Routledge. pp. 150-51. ISBN 0-415-41405-9.
  9. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4). 191-93 doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  10. Jump up ^ Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 194. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  11. ^ Jump up to: ab Zuelow, Eric (Fall-Winter 2004). “To establish the Irish nationalist history within the walls: the restoration of Kilmainham Jail”.Éire-Ireland. 39 (3 & 4): 196. doi: 10.1353 / eir.2004.0024.
  12. Jump up ^ Kilmainham Jail Restoration Society (c. 1960). Kilmainham.Dublin. p. 3.
  13. Jump up ^ “More volunteers needed to work in prison.” Irish Independent. May 31, 1960.
  14. Jump up ^ “Kilmainham Jail chapel opened again.” Irish Independent.October 25, 1971.
  15. Jump up ^ Cooke, Pat (2006). “Kilmainham Gaol: confronting change”.(2002- Irish Arts Review. 23 : 42.