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Cork City Gaol

Experience the harshness of Irish penal life in the 19th century as you wander amid the cells of this architecturally impressive former prison.

Visit Cork City Gaol, where prisoners were held in gruesome conditions for almost a century during the 1800s and 1900s. Learn about this historic prison’s famous inmates, their crimes, escapes and executions while walking between the well-preserved cells. Cork City Goal opened in 1824 and became an all-female prison in 1878. It held a mix of well-known prisoners and poor citizens, many convicted of petty crimes such as stealing clothes and food.

Admire the building’s striking architecture, designed by Kilkenny-born architect William Robertson. Note how it resembles a castle. Look for prominent Georgian and Gothic features, including the turreted battlements.

Pick up an audio guide and take a self-guided tour of the prison’s rooms. Listen to the stories of the former inmates and discover why some were sent to Australia for their crimes. Peek inside the cells, which portray the squalid living conditions. Come face-to-face with wax models of prisoners dressed in period clothing and merciless-looking wardens.

Get an insight into some of the famous figures imprisoned at Cork City Gaol. Among these was Countess Constance Markievicz, an Irish nationalist who became the first woman elected to British Parliament. Hear about the botched execution of Owen Ryan, the first to take place at the prison’s gallows. Be fascinated by the tale of how a group of 42 Irish Republican Army veterans escaped in 1923, many of whom were never recaptured.

The prison closed in 1923 and from 1927 to the 1950s operated as a radio station. Today, the old Governor’s House is home to the Radio Museum, which has a collection of antique radios, photographs and a microphone once used by President John F. Kennedy.

Located in the Sunday’s Well district, the prison is about a 20-minute walk from Cork’s city center. A hop-on hop-off tourist bus also stops here. Alternatively, drive and use free parking on the street outside the prison’s entrance.

Cork City Gaol is open daily and has an admission fee. Extra fees are applicable for the audio guide and Radio Museum. Find more information on the prison’s official website, including details of an evening tour.


Guide to Exploring Cork City Gaol


Top Hotel Deals

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The Kingsley €134
The Kingsley

The Kingsley

Victoria Cross, Cork, Cork
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Cork, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cork County Hall and University College Cork. Cork University Hospital and English Market are also within 2 miles (3 km).

    The River Lee Hotel €180
    The River Lee Hotel

    The River Lee Hotel

    Western Road, Cork, Cork
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly Cork hotel is located near the airport, within a 10-minute walk of Glucksman Gallery, Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral and Triskel Arts Centre. University College Cork and Cork Opera House are also within 15 minutes. CORK (Station) is 26 minutes by foot.

      Clayton Hotel Cork City €124
      Clayton Hotel Cork City

      Clayton Hotel Cork City

      Lapps Quay, Cork, Cork
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Cork City Centre, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cork City Hall and English Market. University College Cork and Pairc Ui Chaoimh are also within 2 miles (3 km). CORK (Station) is 10 minutes by foot.

        Victoria Lodge
        Victoria Lodge

        Victoria Lodge

        Victoria Cross, Cork
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Cork, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Cork County Hall and University College Cork. Cork University Hospital and English Market are also within 2 miles (3 km).

          Castlewhite Apartments €112
          Castlewhite Apartments

          Castlewhite Apartments

          Western Road, Cork
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Cork, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Cork Public Museum, University College Cork, and English Market. Cork University Hospital and Pairc Ui Chaoimh are also within 3 miles (5 km).

            Hayfield Manor €229
            Hayfield Manor

            Hayfield Manor

            Perrott Avenue, College Road, Cork, Cork
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              This family-friendly Cork hotel is located near the airport, within a 10-minute walk of Glucksman Gallery and University College Cork. English Market and Cork University Hospital are also within 2 miles (3 km).

              College View Apartments €145
              College View Apartments

              College View Apartments

              C/O Killarney Guest House, Western Road, Cork, Cork
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in the heart of Cork, this apartment building is within a 5-minute walk of Cork Public Museum and University College Cork. English Market and Cork University Hospital are also within 2 miles (3 km).

                Acton Lodge
                Acton Lodge

                Acton Lodge

                Western Road, directly opp. The Cork Clinic, Cork, Cork (county)
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Cork, this bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Fitzgerald Park and University College Cork. Cork University Hospital and English Market are also within 2 miles (3 km).