Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison turned museum that played an important part in Irish history. It opened in 1796. The leadership of failed Irish rebellions in 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867, and 1916 were held, and oftentimes executed here. Consequently, the prison was seen as an instrument of British colonial control and was closed after independence in 1924. In the 1950s, plans were submitted to demolish the unused prison prompting a community response. Restoration work was undertaken between 1962 and 1971 and today it's open as a museum.
Kilmainham Gaol did not discriminate -- men, women, and even children as young as 7 were thrown in here. Conditions were less than satisfactory. Prisoners were jammed up to five in a cell. Their only light source was a candle in each cell that was replaced once every two weeks. The interior design is essentially a large three story hall ringed with cells, and the courtyard was used for executions.
The only way to get in is with a guided tour. This is one of Dublin's most popular tourist attractions, so there are often long lines. It's worth the wait, though. The tour is informative and you'll come away with a good deal of knowledge about Ireland's history. This is a must see for any history buff.
Location: Inchicore Road, Dublin West
Telephone: +353 01 453 5984
Hours: Open 09:30-18:00 daily (April through September); Monday to Saturday 09:30-17:30, Sunday 10:00-18:00 (October through March)