Wicklow Historic Gaol, County Wicklow
On entering Wicklow Historic Gaol which is located in Wicklow town, you will be transported back in time and meet face to face with some of the most notorious characters to have walked the floors of this dramatic and history filled building. As you travel back in time, you are entering one of the cruelest, most historically shameful places in Ireland.
The building of Wicklow Gaol commenced in 1702 and was completed within a few years. The earliest recorded prisoner was Fr. Owen Mc Fee, a seventy two year old priest, who was convicted of saying Mass in the County contrary to the law. He was sentenced to transportation to a British colony in America in 1716. Conditions within the Gaols at this time were appauling. Prisoners were held together in rooms and it was not until prison legislation in 1763 that the separation of prisoners - male and female, tried from untried and sane from insane - was introduced.
Many convicts were sent away to the Americas and to Australia. Recent research has catalogued over 400 prisoners held in Wicklow Gaol prior to being transported. Wicklow Gaol's status was demoted from that of a County Gaol to a bridewell in 1877 by legislation. It was closed as a Gaol in 1900 – but reopened again in 1918, manned by the Cheshire Regiment of the British Army, to house members of the Irish republican
Brotherhood and Sinn Fein. The Gaol was finally closed in 1924. Additional Gaol Facilities include a craft and gift shop as well as a newly refurbished coffee shop. Car parking is available outside the Gaol.
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