Wicklow Gaol is a historic prison and is renowned in Ireland for its harsh conditions. It is located in Wicklow in the south east of Ireland and following a sympathetic restoration it is now an interactive attraction that introduces visitors to early 18th century prison life. It is an atmospheric and educational experience, providing a stark reminder of hard times gone by.
On stepping through the doors visitors are brought back in time to a bygone era. A visit provides a real insight into the grim conditions the prisoners endured whilst incarcerated here. There are actors in period costume who play some of the most notorious characters to have spent time here, either as a jailer or a prisoner, they are passionate and knowledgeable. This interactive journey will take visitors through two centuries of history, it is extremely well presented and laid out, with each floor relating to a different era. There are lots of history story boards that are very informative, as well as audio guides available. The holographic projections of cruel prison guards, life-size mannequins and life-like audio from the 1798 rebellion further enhance the experience.
This infamous prison opened in 1702 and was operational until 1924 when it eventually closed its doors. The experience really brings the prisoners stories to life, visitors will get a real feel of the harshness of life at this time and the brutality of its keepers. Find out why these unfortunate people were incarcerated. See the cramped and filthy conditions they lived in, find out about the daily work and chores prisoners had to carry out, the strict and brutal punishment regimes, the lack of hygiene that resulted in disease and death, both were rife here.
The story of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 is narrated and visitors can also experience the cruelty of the transportation ships and see what awaited them once they arrived in the penal colonies of Australia and Tasmania. It is a thought provoking attraction. There are various exhibits and models on show that further demonstrate the conditions here.
The dungeons are now open, they are dank and dark and were even more difficult than normal prison life, visitors can experience first-hand the sights and sounds of the gruesome conditions.
At the schoolroom meet Mary Matron, the 19th century gaol matron, be part of her classroom and learn the three R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic. .
There is a cafe where visitors can enjoy a nice selection of tasty snacks, light lunches and home-made cakes and pastries, its in welcoming and cosy atmosphere. It is located on the main floor of the gaol. There is also a well stocked gift shop for souvenirs.
Wicklow Gaol is open seven days a week throughout the year. An average a viist is about an hour to an hour and a half. They also operate ghost night-time tours for those brave enough.