Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol ( Irish: Prí­osún Chill Mhaighneann ) is a former prison, located in Kilmainham in Dublin, which is now a museum. It has been run since the mid-1980s by the Office of Public Works (O.P.W.), an Irish Government agency. Edmund Wellisha, the head guard at the prison, was convicted of undernourishing prisoners in support of the rebellion. Kilmainham Gaol played an important part in Irish history, as many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the prison by the British and latterly in 1923 by the Irish Free State. When it was first built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol was called the 'New Gaol' to distinguish it from the old gaol it was intended to replace - a noisome dungeon, just a few hundred yards from the present site. It was officially called the County of Dublin Gaol, and was originally run by the Grand Jury for County Dublin. Over the 128 years it served as a prison, its cells held many of the most famous people involved in the campaign for Irish independence. The British imprisoned and executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising here. Children were sometimes arrested for petty theft, the youngest said to be a seven year-old boy, while many of the adult prisoners were deported to Australia. There was no segregation of prisoners; men, women and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell, with only a single candle for light and heat, most of their time was spent in the cold and the dark. The candle had to last the prisoner for two weeks. Its cells were roughly 28 meters squared. Kilmainham Gaol was abandoned as a prison in 1924, by the government of the new Irish Free State. Following lengthy restoration, 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 all over contemporary Ireland. At Kilmainham the poor conditions in which women prisoners were kept provided the spur for the next stage of development. Remarkably, for an age that prided itself on a protective attitude for the 'weaker sex', the conditions for women prisoners were persistently worse than for men. As early as his 1809 report the Inspector had observed that male prisoners were supplied with iron bedsteads while females 'lay on straw on the flags in the cells and common halls.' Half a century later there was little improvement. The women's section, located in the west wing, remained overcrowded. Kilmainham Gaol's historic importance was assured by the men and women who were held or died here for their nationalist ideals. The Gaol's history as a prison, the fate of the common man and women as convict, is a compelling story in its own right. Their story gives a unique insight into convict transportation and the Great Famine, two major events in the social history of modern Ireland. Kilmainham Gaol is one of the biggest unoccupied gaols in Europe. Now empty of prisoners, it is filled with history. It has aptly been described as the 'Irish Bastille'. When the Gaol was first built public hangings took place at the front of the Gaol. However, from the 1820s onward very few hangings, public or private, took place at Kilmainham. A small hanging cell was built in the gaol in 1891. It is located on the first floor, between the West Wing and the East Wing.

Former prisoners
  • Henry Joy McCracken, 1796
  • Oliver Bond, 1798 (Bond, a native of St. Johnston, County Donegal, was to die in the gaol).
  • 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
  • J. E. 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, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Thomas Caffrey, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Michael Fagan, (Phoenix Park murders) 1883
  • Michael Davitt
  • Pádraig Pearse, 1916
  • Willie Pearse, (Younger brother of Pádraig Pearse, who was unaware his brother was also to be executed) 1916
  • James Connolly, (Executed, but not held at, Kilmainham) 1916
  • Con Colbert 1916
  • Countess Markiewicz, 1916
  • Éamon de Valera, 1916
  • Joseph Plunkett, 1916
  • Michael O'Hanrahan, 1916
  • Edward Daly, 1916
  • Grace Gifford, (Wife of Joseph Plunkett) (1922)
  • Ernie O'Malley, during the War of Independence and the Civil War
  • Peadar O'Donnell, during the Civil War
  • Thomas MacDonagh, 1916
  • Thomas Clarke, 1916

The following films 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 Whistle Blower , 1987
  • In the Name of the Father , 1993
  • Michael Collins , 1996
  • The Escapist , 2008 (starring Brian Cox)
A music video for the U2 song A Celebration was filmed in Kilmainham jail in 1982.

Many more Photographs in Wikimedia Commons

See Also
  • Prisons in Ireland