Turbulent Times

Most of our second day in Dublin was devoted to learning more about the Easter Rising of 1916 and the War of Independence a few years later which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State and then the Republic of Ireland as we know it today.

We visited two sites that gave an amazing insight into this period of Irish history.

The first was Kilmainham Gaol which dates from the late 1700’s.  It was closed in 1924 and left to deteriorate until restoration began almost 40 years later.  There is now an exhibition with excellent displays but the highlight is the guided tour of the gaol.

This is not for the faint-hearted or claustrophobic.


Kilmainham Gaol held all types of common criminals during its time and was also a holding point for those who were destined to be transported beyond the seas, to Australia.  However, the focus of the tour is firmly on the incarceration of those involved in the Easter Rising of 1916 as well as the later War of Independence.

It was the execution, by firing-squad, of 14 of the ringleaders between May and August 1916 that turned public opinion firmly in favour of the rebels.

This lone cross is a reminder of one of the worst moments – the execution of James Connolly who had been so badly injured that he was unable to stand at the other end of the yard where all of the other executions took place.  Therefore, he was tied to a chair for his execution.

A sculpture opposite the jail stands in mute remembrance of the 14 rebel leaders who were executed.

About 1km away is the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History which is located in Collins Barracks.

There were more displays about the Easter Rising of 1916 which further expanded our understanding  of this particular part of Irish history.

We had a small glimpse of some of the many other galleries to see but there is so much more to see.  Another visit perhaps?


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