Opened in 1832, Glasnevin Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Ireland and it is the resting place of many people who have shaped Irish history over the past two centuries.
In the 1800s there were heavy restrictions on Catholics and Presbyterians, including restrictions on how they buried their dead. These restrictions were known as the Penal Laws.
Daniel O’ Connell campaigned for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead a dignified burial. He wanted this cemetery to be a place ‘for all religions and none’.
The first person to be buried in Glasnevin was an eleven year old boy named Michael Carey. He died from tuberculosis. Since then, the cemetery has grown and there are now over 1.5 million people buried there. As you approach the cemetery, the tallest Round Tower in Ireland is clear to see. It was built to honour Daniel O’ Connell who is buried underneath the tower in a crypt.
DID YOU KNOW...?
The tower is 51 metres in height and you must climb 198 steps to reach the top!
Throughout the War of Independence, the funerals of those involved in the war, and of those who were caught in the cross-fire, were a frequent sight at Glasnevin cemetery. Significant funerals of members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British Forces were held in Glasnevin throughout the War of Independence.
Many well-known individuals from the IRA and Cumann na mBan are buried very close to one another: Michael Collins, Constance Markievicz, Éamon de Valera, Cathal Brugha, Rory O’ Connor and Margaret Skinnider, to name just a selection (these named individuals did not die during the period 1919-21 therefore these funerals were at a later stage).
Many civilians are buried in Glasnevin, including eight of those who were killed in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday 1920.
There is also a burial plot for the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police.
DID YOU KNOW...?
There are more people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery than live in all of County Dublin
A very famous speech was delivered in Glasnevin Cemetery in 1915. Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, gave an oration at the graveside of Jeremiah O’ Donovan Rossa. The funeral was an opportunity to gather nationalists together in Dublin when plans for a rebellion were in the early stages. His speech has been seen as being deliberately provocative and the event was a key moment for nationalists in the lead up to the 1916 Easter Rising.
Glasnevin’s vision is to preserve the heritage of past generations, serve the needs of the present generations and to provide the legacy for future generations. When the Victorian cemetery was founded in 1832, it was intended to be for people of all faiths. To this day, Glasnevin Cemetery is a place where commemorations of different traditions, communities and events take place each year.