Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Glasnevin Cemetery Tour

As part of Heritage Week Glasnevin Cemetery guided tours are free all this week at 2.30 and 7.30. I took one yesterday never having actually explored the cemetery. Our guide was Shane MacThomáis who has been the resident historian and tour guide to Glasnevin Cemetery for over ten years. He was excellent, very knowledgeable and very witty.

He showed us many of the more important graves, DeValera, Parnell, Collins, O'Connell but also told us a lot about the history of the place and the current plans for renewal and for developing it as national monument. A new history and interpretative centre is being built and should be open next Easter. The whole cemetery is being restored to the state is was around 1900 - a fine Victorian-style garden cemetery with manicured grass and carefully cobbled paths flanked by well-pruned hedges.

I was most impressed with the Parnell headstone, set apart in a grassy circle, Wicklow granite and just the single word. Just like the man himself I think. The DeValera and Collins monuments are very modest, the Dev one in particular is a regular small family headstone in a row of similar monuments. Not far from the Collins grave is Kitty Kiernan's resting place - with her husband. She died twenty three years after Collins, of cancer.

There are about one and a half million people buried in the cemetery though most of these have no headstone or marker. The cemetery does have a record of every burial since its foundation and these are being put on the internet. There is a charge for looking up burials.

There are still about two thousand plots available to purchase in the cemetery. They cost from three thousand euro to around forty thousand euro depending on location.

1 comment:

Peter Goulding said...

I found the cemetery a great source for my own family history. The records for one (unmarked) grave actually listed seven people in there from 4 different generations and provided a long-sought link between two families.