Do you know what Dark Tourism is ??

Dark tourism (also referred to as black tourism or grief tourism)  has been defined as tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy. … The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.  Dark Tourism is a becoming increasingly popular as a niche in the travel industry.   There are many sites in Ireland, both North and South.

Here are a few of the more famous:


Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)

A large old prison in the west of Dublin opened in 1796, It’s the place most linked with the various key rebels and leaders of uprisings during much or Ireland’s struggle against domination by England, perhaps most notably the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Most of them were executed here. The jail was closed in 1924 shortly after Ireland did (mostly) gain independence. After many years of neglect the site was comprehensively refurbished and a museum added. It’s easily Dublin’s No. 1 dark site today!

The very last political prisoner, and only one to walk out of Kilmainham alive, was Eamon de Valera, who later became Prime Minister and President of Ireland and is still regarded as one of the most eminent Irish politicians of the 20th century.

The prison had already closed in 1910 when the Easter Rising of 1916,  crushed by the English army, saw the prison drawn back into service, namely to house the arrested leaders of the rebellion.

Strokestown House – Irish National Famine Museum

The Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór[anˠ ˈgɔɾˠt̪ˠa mˠoːɾˠ]) or the Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.

It is sometimes referred to, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine, because about two-fifths of the population was solely reliant on this cheap crop for a number of historical reasons. During the famine, approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.

Strokestown Park  is a unique visitor attraction in County Roscommon in The West of Ireland comprising of Strokestown Park House, a Georgian Palladian mansion preserved with its original furnishings and fabrics, which can be seen daily by guided tour. The House was the family home of the Pakenham Mahon family and is built on the site of the 16th century castle, home of The O Conor Roe Gaelic Chieftains. The Landlord Major Denis Mahon was assassinated in November 1847 at the height of The Great Famine of Ireland and it is fitting that The Irish National Famine Museum was established at Strokestown Park in 1994 using the unique original documents which came to light during the restoration of The House.    A tour of The House gives an intimate insight into life in The Big House, upstairs and downstairs. The Irish National Famine Museum tells a different story and highlights the parallels between a tragic chapter of Irish History and contemporary global hunger. The Walled gardens and Woodlands take you back again to the glorious surroundings of a planned Georgian estate. Within a short time the visitor has been brought on a journey through Irish History, the good and the bad, from Ireland in the 1600’s, right up to the present day.

Cobh Heritage Center-The Queenstown Story 

The Queenstown Story is a self-guided tour relaying the tales of Emigration to North America, transportation of Convicts to Australia, the story of the Irish slaves in the West Indies and, of course, the Titanic and the Lusitania disasters. The exhibition is full of stories and history and gives visitors the opportunity to explore our rich historic past and engage with the stories told.

Highlights include:

Hear of our Maritime history Discover tales of emigration and transportation Learn Cobh’s connection to the ill-fated Titanic & Lusitania ships Hear about the Irish Slaves in the West Indies Trace your heritage through the genealogical research facilities


Crumlin Road Goal (jail) 

An old prison in West Belfast Northern Ireland which played a crucial role during the “Troubles”.  (The Troubles is the common name for the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century.)  Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as a “guerrilla war” or “low-level war”.

It was originally built in the mid 19th century to the then new “separation” design, i.e. prisoners were held in single cells without being able to communicate with each other.  Its architectural design features a typical shape of wings of cell blocks fanning off a central “core” known here as “The Circle”. The cell blocks are up to four storey’s high, and were intended originally to hold up to 500-600 prisoners in total.
During the Troubles between 1968 up to the prison’s closure in 1996, it served mainly as a remand prison for suspected terrorists/paramilitaries from both the Republican and the Loyalist sides, who were, naturally, kept segregated. During the 1970s the prison was often overcrowded with up to three prisoners per cell. Informally the prison is known as “The Crum”.

Up until 1961, executions were also carried out at Crumlin Road Gaol, 17 in total. An underground passage connected the prison directly with the courthouse across the road.
After the prison’s closure in 1996 it stood derelict for years until it was decided to turn it into a visitor attraction in 2010. Now you can see the cell blocks, the condemned men’s cell and execution chamber and even the underground passage to the courthouse, which itself, however, is still derelict.

Black Taxi Tours  (courtesy of Viator Tours

An absolute classic of dark tourism!  Going, or rather: being driven around West Belfast, which was one of the key former battlegrounds of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

This tour offers a unique chance to travel with the original drivers who put their lives at risk every day during The Troubles trying to provide a transport service in their black cabs to the people of The famous Falls road and Shankill road. This riveting journey into the most recent conflict in Irish/British history. Your local knowledgeable guide will provide you with an insight into the famous murals and epic peace walls around Belfast. Your tour is transport based, travel in our luxurious classic London cabs.

This is award winning personal guided tour around the famous Belfast murals, painted by ex-prisoners and locals from both sides of the community, these murals tell individual stories of conflict, community strife, civil rights, civil unrest, stories of inspiration, prison protests and much more. Your local guide  will give you an understanding of a life at risk every day. You will hear the four versions of our history; Loyalist version, Republican version, British version then the truth. We relate stories to you in a very easy to understand format, with the aid of photographs/video from our troubled past depicting the neighborhoods you will visit.

Read more about Belfast Black Taxi Tour – Belfast | Viator at:


So as you can see there are lots of options to choose from, we have only covered a few – Ireland has so much to offer and for those of you that really want to dig into the History of Ireland and understand the “suffering” of our Country, these dark tourism sites will realy convey that.

All the best

Dervila & Emer

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