Visiting the Glasnevin Cemetery was a very cold but educational experience. It also offered much insight into Ireland’s past. Our guide talked about Parnell, de Valera, Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, and many more who are buried there. A slightly morbid but interesting fact is that there are more buried in that cemetery than there are people living in Dublin. It is regarded as being Ireland’s National Cemetery. It was established in 1832 on nine acres of land. Today it has approximately 1,200,000 burial sites across one hundred and twenty acres. It was the first cemetery, other than the Church of Ireland, to allow burial rites.
As many people do, what I found perhaps most intriguing was the monument dedicated to Daniel O’Connell (the Liberator). The tower he is buried under is the tallest in Ireland. O’Connell worked very hard on the behalf of the Catholics and fought against the anti-Catholic laws. He was a hero to the Irish and a grand statue of him is on the main street in Dublin which was renamed O’Connell Street in his honor. The Glasnevin Cemetery became the first cemetery where Protestants and Catholics could both have a proper burial service for their loved ones. This was so meaningful for the Catholics because they believed in resurrection of the body so a burial was very, very important to them. It is terrible to think that they were forced to cremate the bodies of their loved ones when they were so devoted to their religion.
When we went under the tower to see Daniel O’Connell’s tomb, we were told that it is thought that anyone who touches it will have the luck of the Irish (similar to how kissing the Blarney Stone will result in an individual having the gift of gab). Daniel O’Connell was a hugely influential person. He was very much a human rights activist and strongly disagreed with slavery. He was a forward thinker and it was his foresight that led him to open the first cemetery in Ireland that was nondenominational. His dying wish was, “My body to Ireland, my heart to Rome, my soul to God.” This was granted and his heart was cut out and sent to Rome to stay in a church of the Irish College. However, the bank bought this Irish College and when his heart was being retrieved so it could be moved to a new college, it wasn’t there. It is quite the mystery as to where the current resting place of Daniel O’Connell’s heart is.
The other tomb I found most remarkable was that of Michael Collins. It was not exceptionally tall or intricate, however it was placed in its own area, and had plenty of fresh flowers on it. This shows how people still care about him immensely and how they still take the time to supply his grave with beautiful flowers. There is a woman who visits his grave who is referred to as the “mysterious French lady.” She was truly captivated by his story and refuses to not show her appreciation. Michael Collins impacted the lives of so many, and I am very glad that he is properly commemorated and appreciated at the Glasnevin Cemetery. It is an interesting notion that he and the leader of the opposing side both have their final resting places mere yards away from each other. It is believed that when Collins signed the treaty he said, “I tell you, I have signed my death warrant.” He was ready to give his life for what he believed would benefit his beloved Ireland, and that he did.
‘Mysterious French lady’ speaks of devotion to Collins’s memory – Independent.ie. 2014. ‘Mysterious French lady’ speaks of devotion to Collins’s memory – Independent.ie. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/mysterious-french-lady-speaks-of-devotion-to-collinss-memory-26807006.html. [Accessed 15 March 2014].
Glasnevin cemetery: Ireland’s largest necropolis. 2014. Glasnevin cemetery: Ireland’s largest necropolis. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/Glasnevin-cemetery.html. [Accessed 15 March 2014].
By: Alyssa Ashleen Danilow