That’s great that you want to explore Irish history while you’re visiting, you won’t be disappointed! Irish history is so exciting, especially because it’s so varied. Whatever period of history interests you, there’s sure to be something for you to see and do. Kilmainham Gaol
offers a fascinating insight into Irish history, having housed everyone from petty thieves to political rebels under one roof. Overcrowded and underfunded, it closed as a gaol in 1924. It re-opened its doors in 1966 after a huge restoration effort, and now serves as a reminder of some of Ireland’s most recent turbulent history. It’s a must-see for any history buff, but buy your tickets in advance, as this popular exhibition routinely sells out.
For more of Ireland’s prison history, head down to County Cork and visit Spike Island
. There’s a long history surrounding the island, which not only served as a prison but also a monastery and a military fortress! From monks to rebels, this island has seen it all. As you’re exploring the prison cells and the tunnels, revel in the striking scenery of the island. Be sure to explore Cobh
when you get back onto the mainland!
For more ancient history, visit Dublin Castle
, a medieval marvel in the heart of the city. Built in 1230, it has served as a court and a medieval fortress in the past, with its fascinating history on display as you wander through the grounds. Previous visitors to the castle include Charles Dickens, John F Kennedy, and Nelson Mandela. Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, even worked here in the 19th century.
For a taste of Ireland’s literary history, stop and have a bite to eat at some Irish authors’ favourite haunts in Dublin. Check out Davy Byrne’s, which James Joyce frequented and mentioned in his most famous novel, Ulysses. Or try Toner’s, where Bram Stoker was said to be a regular customer. Its stone floors, brass bar taps, and glazed cabinets will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
For your final history hit, stop by the popular Book of Kells
Exhibition in Trinity College. Written around 800 AD by monks at St Columcille’s Monastery, it’s regarded as one of the oldest books in the world. This exhibition is extremely popular, so make sure to book early for your chance to see this ornately illustrated manuscript.
Can our Community members recommend any other interesting historical sites?