Did you know there is a museum in Kilmainham Jail? There is, and it is fun, interesting, and free. So there is no reason for you not to go there.
I am always looking for places to go to in Dublin and a Museum within the perimeter of jail is different, to say the least.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland, and booking is required, as their website confirms: “entrance to Kilmainham Gaol is by guided tour only and is managed through timed tickets. Advance booking is essential and pre-booking online is the only way to guarantee entry.” The tour is offered in English and Irish and the tickets vary between 8Eur per adult to 4Eur per student or children.
However, for those like me that did not know about the booking system and showed up unexpectedly, there is another option. The Gaol may be closed or tickets sold out but you get the chance to visit the museum at the back of it. It is run by the Office of Public Works, is free of charge and serves for a learning experience.
Today and till the 19th of May 2019, there is a temporary public exhibition called Living Inside: Six Voices from the History of Irish prison reform, an exhibition “about change and continuity, institutions and ideas, pain and protest, in Irish prisons. It tells the stories of six people whose experiences speak [about] the history of Irish prison reform, from prisoners’ protests against unhealthy living conditions to the psychological strain faced by prison officers.”
In spite of the fact that the prison in Kilmainham was built in response to poor conditions in the eighteenth century, it eventually went through the same problems that the previous prison had suffered, mainly as a result of overcrowding. This overcrowding caused diseases, poor health and hygiene. All these facts and an understanding of the legal system back then are explained in another exhibition at the museum.
The permanent exhibition tells the story of the social and political history of the prison and it also contains archival material which can be accessed for research purposes, and consists of a wide variety of object types, ranging from manuscript material, photographs, newspapers, weaponry, artwork, medals, uniforms and personal effects mainly from the Irish Revolution.
One of the parts that struck me the most was the interactive attraction that lectures about the philosophy of capital punishment, there is an open poll where visitors can even vote on whether they support capital punishment or not; here is how the count goes now:
And if you need more reasons to go and visit other than my advice, take a look at the Goal on an online tour.