European Adventures: Guinness Brewery and Kilmainham Gaol

It's taking me longer than expected to sort through all of our several thousand Europe photos, but working through the trip in chronological order... I've made it to day 2: a tour of the Guinness Brewery, and a walk over to Kilmainham Gaol.

The Guinness Brewery

Unfortunately you can't tour the actual functioning brewery, but they have made quite an impressive museum out of the build that housed the old brewery. I'm just as fascinated by old architecture as I am by beer-making, which made for an excellent seven-story walk through the old factory building.

Plus, we got to pour our own Guinness pints, and I was able to cross another thing off my 30 by 30 list: drink a Guinness in Ireland.

Drink a Guinness in Ireland: check. (And at the Guinness Brewery, no less.)
From the top of the Guinness Brewery (starting our tradition of climbing to the tops of things in every city we visited).

Kilmainham Gaol

This prison was built at the end of the 18th century, replacing the old jail nearby (both were technically outside of Dublin city limits at the time). Kilmainham staged public hangings and executions in its front courtyard, but truly became famous during the Famine--when people would commit crimes with the intent of being thrown in jail so that they would have something to eat (prisoners were crammed several dozen to a cell, and the hallways functioned as overflow "storage," but at least they were fed every day, which was more than could be said of the outside)--and again during the Rebellion in the 1920s, when it housed political prisoners--and saw many of them shot.

For those familiar with (or interested in) Irish history, an interesting series of facts: Eamon de Valera was held here after the 1916 rebellion, but released by the British forces because he was not believed to be a threat (little did they know). He was later held here again during the Irish Civil War, so the famous Irishman has not one but two cells with his name on a plaque over the door. And because history likes to take things full circle, when the prison was officially re-opened as a National Monument, guess who cut the ribbon? Eamon de Valera, Taioseach of the Irish Republic. 

If you've seen In the Name of the Father, this should look familiar to you.
The prison's stoneyard, historically where prisoners would break stones as work during the day.
In 1916, however, it was where 14 leaders of the Easter Rebellion were executed by British Forces. 13 of them were shot at this end of the courtyard, marked by the cross.

Before the executions, public opinion had not been in favor of the rebellion. But after 14 young men were killed in rapid succession, the tide of public opinion began to shift.

James Connolly, the 14th and final prisoner to be executed here, was shot on the opposite end of the courtyard. Because he had been injured during the Easter Rebellion, he was held in a hospital, not at the prison itself. He was brought by ambulance to the courtyard for execution, and, unable to stand to face the firing squad, was tied to a chair for his execution. 


  1. Love the pictures! Visiting the Guinness Brewery is on my bucket list, too.

  2. I got to cross drink a Guinness in Ireland off my list too! I have seen Name of the Father and it's chilling to see your photo.

  3. It was a wee disappointing that you can't tour the actual working brewery, but they've done a really great job transforming the old warehouse space into a museum to Guinness. Plus, you get to pour and drink Guinness there, so, winning.

  4. It was so strange and yet moving to walk around inside Kilmainham. I can't believe they almost tore the place down.


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