Grave robbing at Glasnevin

By Lisa Marie Griffith

By now I am sure you will have heard that Glasnevin Cemetry won a THEA award (The Themed Entertainment Association) for their new museum. This prompted me to take a visit to check out the museum and I was very impressed. Here is a mock-up of a grave robber in action from the history of Glasnevin exhbit. By the nineteenth century some grave robbers had perfected their trade and instead of digging up the coffins in full they would dig a shaft at the head of the coffin, break the small panel allowing them entrance to the coffin, slip a noose around the neck of the corpse and drag the body out.


9 Responses to “Grave robbing at Glasnevin”

  1. Mary Mulvihill Says:

    Like you, I was delighted to see Glasnevin win the award, and I enjoyed my recent visit and tour.
    I was also intrigued about the grave robbing, and Glasnevin’s boast that no graves were ever robbed there — because Glasnevin opened in 1832, the same year the Anatomy Act was introduced (in the aftermath of Burke & Hare), and which effectively put an end to grave robbing. I suspect that’s the reason no graves were robbed in Glasnevin, rather than the Cuban bloodhounds that they mentioned in the museum!
    On that note, had anyone else ever heard about the use of Cuban bloodhounds to patrol Irish cemeteries? It was new to me.

  2. puesoccurrences Says:

    The Anatomy Act is interesting Mary- especially as the musuem discusses erecting watch towers to stop grave robbers from gaining entrance!
    I have no idea about cuban blloodhounds. I did a qucik google search and couldn’t find anything.


  3. Mary Mulvihill Says:

    I’m guessing the watchtowers were part of the original plan, drawn up before the Anatomy Act. And I don’t have the dates to hand, but it is possible the cemetery was open for a short while before the Act came in?

    Meanwhile, I’d love to know more about the Cuban bloodhounds they said were used in the cemetery!

  4. puesoccurrences Says:

    It was first opened 21 February 1832, the bill passed the House of Lords on 19 July 1832. I thought the towers were added later but you are right Mary- they were part of the original.

    I will send the question out on Twitter and see if we get anyone to comment back on the Cuban bloodhounds…


  5. pageturners Says:

    Looked up Cuban bloodhounds; they don’t sound a nice type of person at all

  6. puesoccurrences Says:

    No- not at all! Thanks for sharing though!

  7. cancer Says:

    I’m convinced We have read this identical form of affirmation somewhere else, it should be gaining interest with the public

  8. Rian McCarthy Says:

    I’m a student currently making a radio documentary about Grave Robbers in Glasnevin Cemetery! Will post it when it’s done!

  9. Rian McCarthy Says:

    Would anybody be available to be interviewed about the Anatomy Act?

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