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 July 29 2013
Kilmainham Courthouse to  be incorporated into the Kilmainham Gaol experience

(Above) Brian Hayes T.D. (2nd from right) with the key to Kilmainham Courthouse (Photo: Brian Hayes website)

On Monday  Kilmainham Courthouse was handed over to the Office of Public Works (OPW). The keys were given to r Brian Hayes, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the OPW by Chief Justice of Ireland, Mrs Susan Denham.

(Above) Kilmainham Courthouse (Photo: Mícheál Ó Doibhilín)

The Courthouse is directly beside Kilmainham Gaol and has been empty since 2008. It was in operation since 1820, but was closed because it was no longer suitable for the needs of court users. Business has been transferred into city centre locations and the new Blanchardstown Courthouse. It is proposed to adapt the building for visitor use, incorporating it into and expanding the Kilmainham Gaol experience. There will be ancillary curatorial, exhibition, research and welfare facilities, and it is hoped to have the whole project ready for the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

Work has already commenced on the repair of the roof of the building, and it has been suggested that visitors will enter the combined Gaol and Courthouse site through the Courthouse, which will incorporate a new ticketing office/Reception, Café, Exhibition area, Toilets etc.

It is expected that the project will also free up space in the Gaol itself and allow it to be used for other purposes. In overall terms, the aim of the project will be to “greatly enhance the visitor experience and allow for a better presentation of the Gaol and its iconic place in Irish History”.

At the ceremony to formally hand over the keys, Niall Bergin, Supervisor of Kilmainham Gaol, put on display an original stone Crown from the wall over the Judges chair from the Courthouse – in situ during the


Above) Thumbs up for plans to renovate Kilmainham Courthouse and incorporate it in Kilmainham Gaol experience. (Photo. Mícheál Ó Doibhilín 2013)

Invincibles Trial in 1883;  a rare lower half of Proclamation of the Republic, 1916 – printed in Liberty Hall in 1916, the Proclamation was printed in two parts due to lack of type. When the Crown Forces seized Liberty Hall, they found the lower half of the Proclamation still set up in its chase on the printing press. They printed some copies as souvenirs and this is one of those.

Speaking at the event, Minister Hayes said “It is my great pleasure to be here today to receive the keys of Kilmainham Courthouse on behalf of my office, the OPW. I am extremely grateful to the Chief Justice, Mrs Denham and the Courts Service for facilitating the proposed development of this building to complement the Kilmainham Gaol visitor site. The Gaol is one of the State’s premier visitor heritage sites, attracting approximately 310,000 visitors annually and the addition of this courthouse building will enhance and expand that visitor experience. My Office will develop proposals which will, in time, commemorate and honour the many important historical events which were played out here and indeed, the building is an important social and judicial witness to the development of our Nation”.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Susan Denham said “It is with great pleasure that the Courts Service hands over Kilmainham Courthouse to the OPW.  This is a building in which decisions were made affecting the lives of many in troubled times – and it is very appropriate that it be recognised as an historic building of the Nation.  It will add greatly to the facilities already on offer here and I look forward to seeing the completed project”.

Information based on Press handouts and official website of BRIAN HAYES TD Dublin South West

July 18, 2013
Parliamentary Question:

Sandra McLellan (Cork East, Sinn Fein) asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform about his plans to incorporate Kilmainham Courthouse into the Kilmainham Gaol experience; and if he would provide a timeline for this.

In a written reply Brian Hayes (Dublin South West, Fine Gael) said that "Kilmainham Gaol is a National Monument site in the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW) and, with 310,910 visitors in 2012, is one of the most popular and heavily-visited tourist sites in Ireland. 

The OPW's role at Kilmainham is to maintain the physical fabric of the site and present it to the public through a dedicated Guide Service, explaining its 217 year history and its role in some of the key events in the formation of the State. 

The site opens to the public on a fulltime basis 362 days per year, attracting significant numbers of visitors and sustaining a strong income profile. As well as its tourist and heritage attractiveness to visitors, it is also the preferred chosen venue for

frequent formal events and functions of social, cultural, artistic, civic and diplomatic significance. 

However, its capacity to deal with an ever-increasing demand is severely limited currently by a number of key factors, most notably the physical limitations of the building, which was obviously constructed with a different purpose in mind and which is not ideally configured to sustain an exponentially increasing volume of visitors. 

It is expected that this challenge will be further emphasised with an expected increase in visitor numbers in the period ahead, particularly in the context of the interest generated by the various commemoration events over the next few years. 

At current levels, the existing Gaol building is at absolute capacity and cannot sustain further large scale increases in visitor traffic without significant risk to the fabric of the Monument and to the comfort and safety of visitors. 

The OPW (has) been working on a suitable proposal to enhance the visitor experience at the Gaol. Discussions have taken place with a range of bodies with a view to advance a project in tandem with the 1916 centenary celebrations".

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