A Tourist in my own City – Part One: Glasnevin Cemetery

Yesterday, myself and Mr. Fluffy Tufts decided to play at being tourists in our own city! Unfortunately, Dublin is not very dog-friendly so that meant the four-legged creatures had to stay at home.  They enjoyed a morning walk and by the time we left, The Lads were snoozing on the couch in the living room.  Shelli likes to potter around the rest of the house, and can usually be found curled up at the end of our bed.

Glasnevin Cemetery

It seemed a bit morbid to think of a cemetery as a tourist attraction, but I had heard that there’s a very interesting visitor’s centre, so we thought we’d check it out.  On arrival, we chose the option of a walking tour and entrance to the Glasnevin Museum for 10 euro.  There is a walking tour with a real-life guide once daily at 2.30pm or alternatively, you can take a self-guided mp3 tour.

Glasnevin Cemetery was opened in 1832 and is the final resting place for 1.5 million people.  Sadly, we learned that over 700,000 of these were buried in unmarked pauper’s graves.

Watchtower built in 1842 to prevent body-snatching from Glasnevin CemeteryWe set off with our mp3 guide.  The tour was interesting and informative, however, the map wasn’t very clear, so at times we found ourselves searching in vain for the graves being described!

Highlights of the tour for us was seeing the very first grave at the cemetery and hearing about the grave-robbers who attempted to steal freshly buried corpses for anatomical use at medical schools.

At one time, grave-robbing was so prolific at the cemetery that a watchtower was built.

Watchtower at Glasnevin CemeteryArmed guards were instructed to shoot any potential ressurectionists!  Ironically, the bodies of those shot were more than likely sold to the very medical research facilities that they had been stealing corpses for in the first place!

Many of the older graves have sunk and their headstones have become damaged and displaced.  There is an extensive project taking place with the view to restoring these to their original state.

Whilst we were suitably impressed with the walking tour, we found the museum itself to be quite disappointing.  It was laid out well but almost all the information had already been given to us on the walking tour.

We did enjoy reading about the different customs and beliefs surrounding death and the after-life.  There was also a display of artefacts belonging to some of the people buried at the cemetery.

The museum only took about fifteen minutes to work through and we would have been very disappointed had we not also chosen to take the walking tour.

I do think that Glasnevin Cemetery is worth a visit (we certainly enjoyed our few hours there), though I would probably advise that visitors just take the walking tour.  More information can be found here: Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum

Check back tomorrow for Part Two of this post which will be about the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland.

14 responses to “A Tourist in my own City – Part One: Glasnevin Cemetery

  1. I have been to Ireland (being of Irish descent) and loved every rainy minute of it. We stayed on farms and in castles, meeting many Irish men and women and learning of the country life. What a fantastic, beautiful, warm and generous country. We WILL be back someday.

    We did not, however, come to Dublin. It was the countryside I wanted to see, and since I’m the boss in this house (lol), that’s what we did.

    We have some older cemeteries here in St. Augustine, and I love walking through them and sketching. Cemeteries here are often quiet and great for this, since the rest of our little town is jammed with tourists. We are also a stone’s throw from Savannah, and often take day trips to check out those ancient (what we would consider ancient) cemeteries. The architecture is always incredible.

    I was wondering if many of those people in your cemetery died of cholera. Since the cemetery started in the mid-19th century, and that was the time of some of the greatest outbreaks of the disease, perhaps many of those million fell quickly. Great book: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. It’s not fiction, but rather is almost thesis-like about how they conquered cholera with enhanced public health and services (like waste removal) in London, and how politics got in the way of it all. Cholera was a monster killer in all of Europe and the British Isles around this time because of over-crowding in the cities, and they still didn’t know what caused the disease.

    Great post. I’ll be back. Patsye

    • I’m very glad to hear that you had such a lovely visit here. The countryside here is really beautiful. We rented a cottage in Wexford for a week this summer and brought The Lads with us. It was so peaceful. Hopefully, you will come back again and this time you must drop by Dublin!

      On the subject of Glasnevin Cemetery, it is interesting that you mentioned cholera. There is indeed a large mass grave as a result of an epidemic of cholera. It was around this time that the authorities here realised that water could carry disease and that the bodies were in fact contaminating the drinking water for the city. They designed a system of underground culverts that diverted any contamination to the sewers.

  2. Hi, we wanted to stop in and thank you for dropping by Chancy’s blog and leaving a comment. You have a nice blog. Hugs and nose kisses

  3. Cemeteries actually do have a lot of great art in the statues along with lots of interesting history. We look forward to reading more about your visit:)

    P.S. Thank you for the Versatile Blogger nomination:)

  4. Very interesting post. I didn’t realise you were in Ireland. I did a lot of genealogy a few years ago & discovered my paternal GG Grandparents were transported from Ireland to Tasmania in the 1850’s as convicts. We are still here in Tasmania to this day.

  5. Pingback: A Tourist in My Own City – The Mummies of St Michan’s Church | Fluffy Tufts

  6. Pingback: A Tourist in My Own City – Blessington Street Basin | Fluffy Tufts

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