Plan your visit to see any of the current exhibitions by viewing location, transport, and facilities information here.

1916 Portraits and Lives

13 May – 31 October 2016

The biographies selected compose an inclusively broad picture of the rising, representing the spectrum of personalities and perspectives that were involved in the event. They include not only the insurgents (and some others) killed during the rising but also some of the women who were involved as soldiers or in supporting capacities; three nationalist leaders who opposed the rising; some of the senior figures in the British administration in Ireland in 1916; members of the British army that suppressed the rising; and two historians who made considerable contributions to the scholarly debate on 1916. This selection aims to give a balanced view of the rising.

Future Histories

21st May 2016

Niamh Murphy and Áine Phillips will curate a 12-hour live art and video event with 16 acclaimed Irish artists at Kilmainham Gaol to respond to its iconic historical associations with the 1916 Rising. The invited artists, from north and south of the border, who work in performance, live art and video will respond to the 1916 centenary, creating contemporary perspectives on our shared past, conflicts, crises and passions in relation to the Rising and its greatest monument, Kilmainham Gaol.

The artists are Amanda Coogan, Danny McCarthy, Brian Connolly, Debbie Guinnane, Helena Walsh, Sandra Johnson, Fergus Byrne, Francis Fay, Katherine Nolan, Pauline Cummins, Ciara McKeon, Dominic Thorpe, Méabh Redmond, Dr. Laura McAtackney, Michelle Browne, Alastair McLennan and Sinéad O’Donnell.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum Permanent Exhibition


The main exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol Museum tells the story of the social and political history of the prison. Three main themes are explored on three levels of the exhibition space:

  • social history of Kilmainham Gaol and Irish prisons in the 1800s
  • the history of Irish nationalism and republicanism, 1796-1924
  • the restoration of Kilmainham Gaol in the 1960s

The ground floor exhibition tells the story of Kilmainham Gaol from the perspective of the ordinary prisoner. A prison register for Kilmainham Gaol shows the crimes for which men, women and children were imprisoned, ranging from violent assault to stealing apples from an orchard. Visitors can see the small wooden box used by convict John Sheahan to carry his possessions to Australia in 1842. A Victorian-era Gandolfi camera, used to capture prisoner ‘mugshots’, is also on display.

Rebellion, nationalism and the path to independence are the themes of the exhibition on the first floor, which deals with Irish political history from the 1798 rebellion up until the end of the Irish Civil War in 1924. Objects on display include Robert Emmet’s proclamation of a provisional government of Ireland in 1803, the last letter written by Charles Stewart Parnell and scapulars taken from the body of Michael Collins following his assassination in 1922.

The ‘Last Words’ section of this exhibition displays the last letters and personal belongings of the fourteen leaders of the Easter Rising executed at Kilmainham Gaol in May 1916.The final floor of the exhibition tells the extraordinary story of a group of volunteers who rescued Kilmainham Gaol from near ruin in the 1960s and restored it as a monument dedicated to the men and women who were imprisoned or executed in Kilmainham Gaol in the cause of Irish independence.

You may also be interested in viewing items from the permanent collection.

View the Collection