•Explore the jail that held some of the most famous political and military prisoners in Irish history
•Visit an art museum in a magnificent —and storied — 17th-century building
While spending time in the clink may not be at the top of your vacation checklist, imposing Kilmainham Gaol has an incredible history worth exploring. The central gallery of the prison is a panopticon—meaning that wherever you are standing you can see the doors of all 96 cells (crucial when those cells were holding the most important revolutionaries in Irish history). It’s chilling stuff but good-humored guides help soften the somber edge. Film buffs will recognize this place from the classic 1969 movie The Italian Job—all the prison scenes in the film were shot at Kilmainham. Get here when it opens at 9:30 a.m., as the lines for admission form quickly. A visit to the infamous jail is particularly poignant this year, on the centenary of the Easter Rising that led to the formation of the Irish Republic. Next up, fast-forward to the present with a visit to a contemporary exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) just across the street in the beautifully landscaped grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, where Dubliners flock for summertime concerts. Acts such as Beck, Counting Crows, and Manu Chao have played in the past. Check for gigs while you’re in town on dublinconcerts.ie.
You’ll find Kilmainham Gaol on Inchicore Road. It’s the large, imposing, grey brick building with bars on the windows. If you walk from the jail and past the courthouse, you’ll quickly find yourself on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kimainham. Continue walking on the main path through the landscaped grounds to find yourself in front of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
KILMAINHAM GAOL: Inchicore Rd.; +353-(0)1-453-5984; heritageireland.com
IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART and ROYAL HOSPITAL KILMAINHAM: Military Rd.; +353-(0)1-612-9900; imma.ie