Keeping History Alive; A tour of Glasnevin Cemetery

4 Mar

Whenever you tell someone that you have gone to a cemetery just for fun they often look at you like you are crazy, “why would anyone want to go to such a morbid place?” However, when I took a field trip to Glasnevin Cemetery it did not seem morbid to me at all, just a little gloomy, but that is because of the weather, and to be expected for Ireland. I enjoyed the tour immensely, and honestly the tour guide who was explaining all of the stories to us made the place seem alive with history. One of the most interesting stories in my opinion had to do with grave robbing. Our guide explained that before people began to donate their bodies to science, that grave robbing was a lucrative career choice. Grave robbers could earn a hefty wage selling cadavers to medical schools for educational purposes. While wages where high in Ireland, they were paid double the price if they were to sell to buyers in Scotland. This was an even better deal, but there was the problem of transport; because, stealing and transporting corpses was obviously illegal, grave robbers had to get very clever in order to get the product there in good condition and to not get found out. So, their brilliant plan was to hide the bodies in barrels marked whisky that were destined for Scotland. Not only was it inconspicuous but it also had the added benefit of preserving the body in alcohol until it could reach the buyer. Now comes my favourite part of the story; after the body had been removed from the barrel, not wanting to waste, the whiskey was then sold in pubs to the general public as it normally would have had it not transported human remains. I am planning a trip to Edinburgh in the next couple of weeks and, after hearing that story, I think I am going to pass on the whiskey and stick with a beer!

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