Wicklow Gaol is a recreation of 18th Century prison life. Located in the town of Wicklow, construction of the prison started in 1702. There has been a prison on the site since the late eighteenth century up to 1924.
Prisoners were held at Wicklow Gaol during the 1798 Rebellion and the Great Famine, and many were held there prior to penal transportation. Prisoners were “transported” to distant UK colonies from 1789-1856, including over 600 men involved in the 1798 Rebellion. At the height of the Great Famine, the number of prisoners swelled to 780.
The prison was extended in 1822 to a design by William Vitruvius Morrison, and further extended 1842-1843. It was demoted to the status of ‘bridewell’, a prison for petty offenders awaiting their court date, in 1877.
Between 1900 and 1918, the prison was dormant. However, the Gaol was re-opened in 1918 to cater for the holding of many Sinn Fein members and their supporters. Wicklow Gaol closed its doors for the final time as a prison 1924.
In 1995 renovations began, and it reopened as a museum in 1998, claiming to be one of the world’s most haunted buildings, due to the long history of suffering associated with it.
The Wicklow Gaol Day Tour – step into the past. Meet Mary Morris the Matron and her husband, the ill-mannered old Gaoler; then board the convict ship HMS Hercules for a rough voyage to the New World. Enjoy the atmosphere of one of Ireland’s most historic buildings, with an animated snapshot of life in an historic Irish prison.
The Gates Of Hell Virtual Reality Experience – this fully immersive experience transports visitors back in time to Wicklow Gaol in the 1700’s – a grim 3-dimensional world of corruption, rebellion and dark dungeons. Some of the Gaol’s most notorious prisoners are featured and there may even be a guest appearance from one of the Haunted Gaol’s famous ghosts! This experience includes the regular day tour, but with an added 20min 3D-VR show.
Adults only spooky night tours are also available on occasion. Take an eerie night tour of Ireland’s most haunted building. Mingle with the ghosts, enter the solitude and board the transportation ship. There is no advanced schedule for these tours, but they are usually arranged in October/November. Check the website to see if a night tour is available for booking.
Open 7 days a week at 10.30am, last entry for Day Tours is at 4.15pm.
Part-guided with recorded multilingual audio tours.
Usually closed Dec 16 – Jan 7 and on Good Friday.
Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 04 046 1599
Kilmantin Hill, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow
Day Tour: Adults €11.50; concessions
Virtual Reality Tour: Adults €17; concessions
Free parking available for ticket holders.