Strange lights, phantom footsteps and haunting voices make Kilmainham Gaol one of Ireland’s most haunted historical hotspots says PAUL MOYNIHAN


In Ireland’s capital, one of the country’s most historically significant buildings stands.
The site of numerous shocking executions and a place of loneliness and desolation for those unlucky enough to find themselves behind its bars, Kilmainham Gaol is Ireland’s answer to Alcatraz.
Built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol housed some of Ireland’s most famous figures from wartime, including Éamon de Valera, Pádraig Pearse and Charles Stewart Parnell.
The gaol’s early years would see public hangings take place at its entrance, a common occurrence in Irish gaols of the time.
Shockingly, prisoners were not divided into categories: men, women and children would occupy a cell together.
Conditions were extremely poor, as each cell was provided with a single candle to provide its occupants with some light.
These conditions would continue for many years, until in 1924, the gaol saw its doors close on behalf of the Irish government.
Over the following years, numerous attempts to reopen the prison as a museum would collapse.
The state of the building itself reflected this, as by the end of the second World War, it was practically in ruins.
Finally, in 1960, work began in restoring the prison thanks to the Kilmainham Jail Restoration Society.
It took 11 long years to clear the site of overgrowth and reopen it to the public.
It has remained one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions ever since.

Kilmainham restored but the ghosts remain…

Kilmainham is where many famous Irish leaders would meet their end, making it appropriate that the building is ripe with tales of strange goings-on. Since its restoration began, countless sightings of supernatural entities have been witnessed.
During its early years of being restored, the governor Dan McGill stayed in the gaol with his family, overseeing the work being done.
His rooms sat just above the courtyard, and one tale tells of him looking out at the chapel across the yard late one night, only to see the lights were on.
He investigated the chapel and, upon discovering nothing unusual, he turned the lights off.
Upon making his way back to his room for a good night’s rest, he turned back to look at the chapel, startled to see the lights were back on. This is said to have happened numerous times throughout the night.
Many of the workers helping to restore the building claim to have heard footsteps and voices coming from the corridors and cells, many of which were, sadly, those of former child prisoners.
One of the most frightening events occurred in the dungeon during its re-painting.
The gentleman doing the work at the time claimed to have been thrown through the air by a strong wind, crashing into a wall.
Scarily, this phantom wind held the man against the wall for several moments before disappearing. Needless to say, the painter left and never returned.

Kilmainham Gaol visitors witness ghosts

It’s not just the workers who have experienced disturbing events in the building.
Many visitors claim to have witnessed spooky apparitions and phantom voices during visits to the historic landmark.
A number of children arriving on tours have refused to enter, sensing something spooky beyond its threshold.
Tales of a malevolent force within the chapel have been told by various mediums who have visited the site, and the sound of soldiers marching along its corridors is a common occurrence.
Is it possible that the horrific events that occurred here have somehow imprinted themselves into the very walls of the gaol?
Do the spirits of its former inmates still roam the hallways in the hope that sanctuary will be provided?
A visit to this fantastic piece of Irish history may answer your questions, and it is highly recommended.
Just be aware that the eyes of the dead are watching you as you walk past their cells…


Paul Moynihan
Leave a replyComments (1)
  1. Teresa Monk 2 August 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I visited Kilmainhaim Jail when I visited Dublin a few years ago and found it highly atmospheric, so it doesn’t surprise me if spirits haunt it. My kids had a lot of fun and still talk about the jall sometimes, It’s a great place to visit for families visiting from the States.

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