If for no other reason, Kilmainham Gaol would be remarkable for being the biggest unoccupied gaol in these islands.
As such, it gives the visitor a dramatic and realistic insight into what it was like to have been confined in one of these forbidding bastions of punishment and correction between 1796 when it opened and 1924 when it closed.
However the real importance of the Gaol is its central place in modern Irish history, in particular in covering some of the most tragic events in Ireland's emergence as a modern nation from 1780s to the 1920s, including the 1798 Rebellion (and the lead up to it), the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, and the creation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. In that respect Kilamainham offers a panoramic insight into some of the most profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history.
Many notable figures from Irish history were detained here including including: Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell, the leaders of the 1916 Rising, and Éamon de Valera.
Kilmainham is one of Dublin’s most important monuments and visitor attractions. Currently undergoing a major recent refurbishment, visitors will soon be able to join a tour of Dublin’s iconic and historic gaol and learn about its infamous prisoners and the grim conditions in which inmates were kept. Attractions also include a major exhibition detailing the political and penal history of the prison and its restoration. The tour of the prison includes an audio-visual show.