Archive for March 10th, 2010

The Glasnevin Cemetery Tour

10 March 2010

Contributed by Ciarán Wallace

Some time in the 1970s a republican slogan was painted along the wall of Glasnevin Cemetery. Éireoimid arís it read, ‘we will rise again’, to the delight of local wits.  Whatever its political (or theological) implications, the slogan is being fulfilled in cultural terms at least.

On a very enjoyable tour of the cemetery last weekend I learnt about its past and future.  As a local with a number of family graves in Glasnevin, I suspected that I knew the place, and most of the main historical figures and events associated with it.  While the ninety-minute tour included the famous graves, the real value – and fun – came from the minor stories and incidental detail.

Ok, so it was a bit of a thrill to fulfil a childhood ambition by going down into the vault under O’Connell’s tower.  The shrine-like arrangement of the sealed coffin within an open-sided sarcophagus allows pilgrims to touch the Liberator’s casket.  There was no polite disinterest when the enthusiastic guide suggested we follow the tradition – adults and children alike promptly stepped forward and plunged their hands through the opening into the dim interior.  The crypt, with its Arts and Crafts decoration, the Celtic iconography and the stack of deceased O’Connells in a side room (each in their sealed coffin of course) engaged our interest in the tour from the start. Read More