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Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796, four years before the Act of Union abolished the Irish Parliament in Dublin and replaced it with direct rule from Westminster. It closed in 1924, two years after the signing of the Treaty. Thus the opening and closing of the Gaol more or less coincided with the making and breaking of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland.
Kilmainham Gaol’s historic importance was assured by those heroic men and women who were held or died here for their nationalist ideals. But there is much more to its history. The Gaol’s history as a prison, the fate of the common man and woman as a convict, is a compelling story in its own right.