See & Do

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham stands on the site of the 7th century Early Christian settlement of Cill Maighneann, from which the area of Kilmainham derives its name. In 1174, Strongbow developed the site replacing the Christian settlement with a medieval hospital and monastery of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers).

Built in 1680, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham is the oldest classical building in Ireland and was based on Les Invalides in Paris. It contains a chapel, great hall, formal herbal gardens and burial grounds. When it was built, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham housed just 20 people although it was designed for 400 and at times through history it housed up to 2,500. In 1690, the hospital began looking after army pensioners from the Battle Of The Boyne.

In 1922 the RHK was handed over to the Irish Free State. It served as Garda Headquarters from 1930 to 1950 but fell into disrepair. It was then extensively renovated in the 1980s. In 1991 the RHK became home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) which explains all of the stunning sculptures displayed around the hospital’s 48 acres.

The RHK has been used as a filming location for many movies and TV shows, including The Madman and the Professor, The Tudors and Penny Dreadful.

Today they host one prestigious events such as weddings, conferences, product launches, gala banquets and exhibitions.
The site offers gardens, a bookshop, talks and lectures, a café and unlimited free car and coach parking.
Wheelchair access and a cloakroom are available.

Note that in 2020 the RHK is temporarily closed for remedial works. Their website has a virtual tour.
However the grounds, gardens and courtyard remain open.
Pre-booked Heritage Tours are available of Bully's Acre cemetery and the RHK grounds and formal gardens - contact

Dogs are not allowed in Bully's Acre cemetery, the Officers' Graveyard or the Formal Walled Gardens.

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