Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin
Glasnevin Cemetery , officially known as Prospect Cemetery, is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland with an estimated 1.5 million burials. It first opened in 1832 and is located in Glasnevin, Dublin.
History and description
Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant cemeteries. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin's Cemetery in 1823, provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.
The outcry prompted Daniel O'Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O'Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.
Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21st February 1832. The first burial, that of four year old Michael Casey from Francis Street in Dublin, took place on the following day in a section of the cemetery known as Curran's Square. The cemetery was initially known as Prospect Cemetery, a name chosen from the townland of Prospect which surrounded the cemetery lands. Originally covering nine acres of ground, the area of the cemetery has now grown to approximately 124 acres. This includes its expansion on the southern side of the Finglas Road with the section called St. Paul's. The option of cremation has been provided since March 1982.
Glasnevin Cemetery remains under the care of the Dublin Cemeteries Committee. The development of the cemetery is an ongoing task with major expansion and refurbishment work being carried out at the present time. The Catholic Mass is celebrated by members of the parish clergy every Sunday at 9.45 a.m. The annual blessing of the graves takes place each summer as it has done since the foundation of the cemetery in 1832.
The cemetery is located in Glasnevin, Dublin, in two parts. The main part, with its trademark high walls and watchtowers, is located on one side of the road from Finglas to the city centre, while the other part, "St. Paul's," is located across the road and beyond a green space, between two railway lines.
Memorials and graves
The cemetery contains historically notable monuments and the graves of many of Ireland's most prominent national figures. These include the graves of Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Maude Gonne, Kevin Barry, Roger Casement, Constance Markievicz, Pádraig Ó Domhnaill, Seán MacBride, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, Frank Duff, Brendan Behan, Christy Brown, and Luke Kelly of the Dubliners.
The cemetery also offers a view of the changing style of death monuments in Ireland over the last 200 years: from the austere, simple, high stone erections of the period up until the 1860s, to the elaborate Celtic crosses of the nationalistic revival from the 1860s to 1960s, to the plain Italian marble of the late twentieth century. Glasnevin Cemetery has grown from its original nine to over 120 acre.
The high wall with watch-towers surrounding the main part of the cemetery was built to deter bodysnatchers, who were active in Dublin in the 18th and early 19th century. The watchmen also had a pack of blood-hounds who roamed the cemetery at night. Prime Minister, Robert Peel, when questioned in Parliament on the activities of the body-snatchers, admitted that it was, indeed, a "grave matter".
Glasnevin is one of the few cemeteries that allowed stillborn babies to be buried in consecrated ground and contains an area called the Angels Plot.
In 1982 a crematorium was constructed within the cemetery grounds by Glasnevin Trust. Since then, the service has been used for people of various religious denominations who wished to be cremated. Boyzone singer Stephen Gately was cremated at Glasnevin Crematorium within the cemetery grounds in October 2009.
Glasnevin Cemetery is the setting for the "Hades" episode in James Joyce's Ulysses.
- Glasnevin Cemetery Official Site
- Companion sites irishgraves.com and deadireland.com
- Burial Records from Glasnevin Cemetery Interment.net
- Virtual Tour around Glasnevin Cemetery