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Heritage Ireland

Exhibition: Last Prisoners


Free of charge


02/11/2023 - 30/04/2024


Kilmainham Gaol Museum

The Office of Public Works (OPW) at Kilmainham Gaol Museum presents a new display to mark 100 years since the last prisoners were held in Kilmainham Gaol between October 1923 and January 1924.

The last prisoners were held in Kilmainham Gaol between October 1923 and January 1924. These prisoners included some of the most prominent leaders of the republican side during the Civil War, including Ernie O’Malley, Austin Stack and Peadar O’Donnell. When they arrived in Kilmainham on 20 October 1923 they and many of the other prisoners were a week in to what would be a 41-day hunger strike. Towards the end of the month another high profile prisoner, Éamon de Valera, was also transferred to Kilmainham. However he was kept in strict isolation from the other prisoners and was the only occupant of the entire West Wing of the Gaol.

The display features some of the most remarkable items in the Kilmainham Gaol Museum collection, including a set of playing cards signed by 22 of the striking prisoners between 6 and 8 November 1923. Another poignant item relating to this hunger strike is Peadar O’Donnell’s handwritten will which he wrote on 16 October, two days after the hunger strike started. It ended just over a month before Christmas, and the exhibit includes a souvenir decorative scroll signed by 24 of the prisoners who sat down to Christmas dinner in the East Wing of the Gaol which was decked with festive boughs of holly and pine.

Several items on display have never been on public exhibition before.

Éamon de Valera was transferred to Arbour Hill early in January 1924. The other prisoners appear to have been moved around this time also. Ernie O’Malley was left behind due to the poor state of his health at that time, and he wrote in a letter on 11 January 1924 that he was the only prisoner left in Kilmainham. He was moved to St. Bricin’s Military Hospital shortly after that, making him the last ever prisoner to be held in Kilmainham Gaol.

Open from 9.30am to 5.30pm (last admission 4:30pm), Wednesday to Sunday (until 15 February, open every day after then)

Tickets for a tour of Kilmainham Gaol can be booked online on the Kilmainham Gaol website.


Inchicore Road,
Dublin 8
D08 T2X5

01 453 5984

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