(Day nine recap of my late April Ireland trip.)
I know it's weird, but I love visiting old cemeteries. There's so much history that can be found from perusing ancient tombstones. However, during my 9 days in Ireland I'd been seeing lots of graveyards and was getting cemeteried-out. So on our second day in Dublin, when I saw a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery on the agenda, I initially wasn't very excited. Of all the interesting places to see in Dublin they're taking us here?
|Daniel O'Connell Tower|
One of the great things about not having to travel far, our tour group got to sleep in that morning and wasn't required to report until 9 am. Since our original bus driver George had finished his driving duties and headed home, we had a new bus and driver for our day's trip. Sadly, George's brand-new bus had us spoiled because the bus we rode to Glasnevin was a well-used and dirty vehicle. But luckily today's drive was short - only 45 minutes and we were pulling into the cemetery's gate.
|Graves of priests|
|Large Celtic cross next to the chapel|
|Thick rows of trees line this lane|
Glasnevin Cemetery owes its origins to Daniel O'Connell. The English Penal Laws didn't allow Catholics to be buried in the Protestant cemeteries. As part of his work to advance the rights of Catholics, O'Connell established the Dublin Cemeteries Committee to provide dignified burial space "for those of all religions and none." In 1832 Glasnevin became the second cemetery opened by this committee. Glasnevin was established to accept burials of all faiths and all people, regardless of income (and it still does to this day).
|Cross close-up - so much detail!|
|Graves are packed in here|
|Some of these crosses are quite tall!|
|Our guide Niall was fantastic|
|Niall was a wealth of information|
Glasnevin Cemetery covers 124 acres and contains the graves of many of Ireland's most prominent national figures. As well as famous names, nearly 800,000 people have been buried in unmarked mass graves, victims of the great potato famine of the 1840s and a later cholera epidemic.
|Chapel and crosses|
|A friendly crow|
|Entering Daniel O'Connell's tomb|
|Around this tomb was a moat, with separate rooms for coffins|
At the tower's base was a door that led to Daniel O'Connell's tomb itself. Niall unlocked the door and ushered us inside. The place was ornately decorated. The walls and ceiling painted in flowery patterns, the floor a tile mosaic with shamrocks.
|The ornate tomb of Daniel O'Connell|
|There were holes so one could touch the actual coffin - said to bring good luck|
|An adjacent room held coffins of the O'Connell family|
There was a small room off to the side of Daniel O'Connell's crypt that held four coffins, stacked haphazardly on top of each other. Niall said these held members of the O'Connell family. Didn't look like a very dignified way to bury somebody.
|One last look at Daniel O'Connell's tomb|
|I loved the tile mosaic design on the floor|
|The cemetery was beautifully landscaped|
Exiting the crypt, the rain kicked in again, but that didn't deter our tour group. We followed Niall past a section of the cemetery where priests and bishops were buried. The priests all had grave markers of simple black stone while the more ornate tombs housed important clergy, like bishops and cardinals.
|One of the many columbarium walls at Glasnevin|
Niall led us by a section of Glasnevin reserved for holding cremated remains of loved ones. This columbarium contained several colorful walls that housed ashes.
|Another columbarium site|
|Lovely statues adorning these graves|
|Charles Parnell's grave|
|Walking down one of the lanes|
There were lots of huge trees in this area, and it was a very beautiful and restful part of the cemetery.
|Stopping at Eamon de Valera's grave|
|de Valera's grave|
|O'Connell tower rises high above the graves|
|I liked this statue of Mary|
The best story from Niall: In the late 1800s, a man's wife suddenly died. He tried to remove her wedding ring, but it wouldn't come off her finger. So she had to be buried with her ring. The grave robbers got wind of this, and that night unearthed her coffin. The crooks decided to cut her finger off to get the ring. As they were trying to do this, the woman awakened. Apparently she wasn't dead at all - and had only been in a very deep coma. Her sudden resurrection scared the bodysnatchers and they ran off. The woman wandered back to her home. When her husband answered the door and discovered his wife, bloody and very much alive, he had heart attack and died. The man was then buried in his wife's grave.
As we wandered through the many gravesites on our tour, the rain slowly let up. After visiting Eamon de Valera's grave, the sun started peeking through the clouds, flooding the cemetery with nice light.
|There were all sorts of decorations on the headstones|
|James Larkin grave|
|Twin Celtic crosses|
|Michael Collins grave|
Michael Collins led one of two national paramilitary groups that launched the 1916 Easter Rising. After being captured during this uprising and spending time in jail, Michael was released. He then organized another military group to fight for Irish independence. Collins was in charge of intelligence, and trained many soldiers in guerilla warfare tactics. After the 1921 ceasefire Michael was sent to London to negotiate a peace treaty. Not everyone was happy with the terms he came back with, and a group in opposition (led coincidentally by Eamon de Valera) splintered off and fanned the flames of civil war. In 1922, Michael was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-treaty forces. He was only 31 years old. A recent movie that does an excellent job of portraying this man's life and heroism is Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson.
|People from all over the world leave flowers on Michael Collins' grave|
Michael Collins is still respected worldwide, and Niall remarked that people from all over visit his grave and leave flowers and other items. There is one anonymous person that sends flowers weekly, and has done this for several years.
|Very interesting gravesite (I thought)|
|Rows upon rows of tombstones|
After parting with Niall, our group had another half hour to roam the premises and check out anything a second time.
|And more headstones....|
Lucky for me, blue sky started chasing the clouds away. Time to get more photographs with all this good light!
|The sun finally came out at our tour's end|
|Lines of Celtic crosses|
|The tiniest angel|
|Flowers for a loved one|
|One last look...|
Although initially skeptical about visiting yet another Irish cemetery I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of Glasnevin. So much history in this place! And we'd had such a phenomenal guide, he had really enhanced everything with his insights and stories. It was definitely a worthwhile activity.
|Our tour group photo|
Departing from Glasnevin, Kim and I now had the afternoon free to explore more of Dublin. When planning our Ireland trip, one place had been first and foremost on our minds to visit - the Guinness Storehouse! That's where we were headed after lunch. Come back for my next post and read all about our Guinness experience.