From 1702 to 1924, the brooding edifice on Kilmantin Hill shut away people deemed on the wrong side of history – rebels from the 1798 Rising, convicts to be transported to colonies in America and Australia, desperate women and children who stole simply to feed themselves during the 1840s famine.
Joining those aboard HMS Hercules – there’s a scale model – that transported convicts to New South Wales seems a world away from the cheerful scene of pleasure cruisers and fishing boats in nearby Wicklow Harbour today.
But don’t be fooled. All these tales are still live. Descendants of Irish settlers abroad come to trace their roots in the gaol’s Genealogy Room. And on a night tour of the gaol, one of Europe’s most haunted buildings, you just might catch cries or children’s voices whispering. Some spirits have never left and they won’t let their stories be forgotten.