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Kilmainham Gaol is an irish prison-museum

Have you ever been in a prison? If you haven’t, Thank God! We have not either, but for the purpose of knowing, we decided to visit a museum-prison in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. Kilmainham Gaol is such a popular place in Dublin that in the summer, there are even queues.

Now some information about this prison. It opened in 1796 and having worked till the middle of the XX century, Kilmainham Gaol reflected all the dramatic moments of the Irish history including the Irish people's fight for freedom and independence.

Kilmainham Gaol is a prison museum

Already in the first year of its existence Kilmainham Gaol took a political prisoner Henry Joy McCracken who was hung two years later. By the way public executions were annulled only in 1865.

Of course, there were prisoners convicted for criminal. Or as, for example, during the famine of 1845-1850 in Ireland, Kilmainham Gaol was overcrowded with women and children for theft of food. Conditions of containment for prisoners were just awful, not to mention extremely meagre meals. So, up to the middle of the ХIХ century, in wards, there were no glasses, and only one little candle was given to prisoners for two weeks.

Kilmainham Gaol is an irish prison-museum

Over-crowding of Kilmainham Gaol at that time, and growing up of number of Irish people who were fighting for their independence, in 1862, resulted in necessity to build a new, so called Eastern Wing of the prison with 96 sells. You can see some pictures of this wing in our photos in this post and in musical clip “Celebration” of the Irish group U2. Actualy, Kilmainhan Gaol was also used in the film "Italian Job" (1969).

Up to the middle of the ХIХ, Kilmainham Gaol also received convicts for penal servitude, who were sent to Australia at that time. In total, there were more than 4000 such prisoners.

In 1910, Kilmainham Gaol was closed but after the famous “Easter Rising” in 1916 the prison opened its wards for shut down participants of the Rising. Hundreds of them were locked up in Kilmainham Gaol and 16 leaders of the rebellion were executed in the courtyard of the prison.

Kilmainham Gaol is an irish prison-museum

Kilmainham Gaol was used up to the end of the Civil War in Ireland that means till 1924. At that time, one of the future presidents of Ireland, Earmon de Valera was kept in the prison.

Now some subjective impressions from the visiting the Kilmainham Gaol. We are of the opinion that visiting of the prison is somewhat dragged out. Tour with a guide took more than one hour, at that; it was not allowed to cancel the excursion earlier. Of course the stories of the museum guide were very interesting, but sometimes too extensively. And considering the fact that 2/3 of all the visitors weren’t English-speaking, you can imagine, how it all looked.

In general, after visiting the Kilmainham Gaol we had painful impression. After museums like The Guinness Storehouse and the old Jameson Distillery it didn’t seem livelier!

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