Sunday 23rd May saw me visit Glasnevin Cemetery with my good friend Blaithín.
I was dubious. I was beginning to wonder slightly why I went, at first. You may also wonder why a cemetery is being featured on this blog. As disclaimers go, I paid in just like the rest of the some 30 people who managed to get on the guided tour.
But the 140 acre site is amazing. The €5 priced guided tours done by historian and development manager Shane MacThomais run daily at 11.30am, 12.30 & 2.30pm and are well worth it. Really well worth it.
Of course you can walk in for free…. but whats the fun[?] in that. There are 1.5 million people buried there since 1832 – just pay the fiver…. you won’t regret it.
From an ‘outdoors’ person perspective…. it was noticeable that the trust has been putting a lot of money into restoration of the entire grounds. A lot of headstones appeared as 2 seperate colours and it wasn’t until Shane explained that they had been laid a long time ago and sank, some from 8′ high down to just 2′. These are all now being fixed. The fact that the yew trees were put there to prevent people parking their cattle and right down to why cemeteries are no longer placed by rivers as they used to be.
This June the cemetry will also be joined with the Botanical Gardens so one will be able to walk through from one to the other and there are further plans to open a sort of stone masons apprentices school. That I think is a great idea for such a craft. Once again its not until Shane explains how long in hours and hammer taps per hour a piece of stone takes by hand.
All that aside there are the stories of the grave robbers, why a Dublin person is never buried after 12 noon [uisce beatha ] and as funny as it sounds even just looking at the trees made me smile.
The tour outdoors takes about 1.5 hours. The tour inside the building and out combined costs a tenner and both receipts will give you discount in the coffee shop [where the cakes are a must and the staff are polite]. They also do student rates. If you believe you may have some family history here…. do go and research.
Some of the more better known names buried there include: Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, O’Donovan Rossa, Arthur Griffiths and Countess Markiewicz. Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Cusack and Liam Whelan.
The trust employs 2 full time and 7 part time staff and can be contacted via the Glasnevin Trust website, telephone 00353-1-8826590 or email tours[at]glasnevintrust[dot]ie
*view more images of Glasnevin Cemetry