This entry is a little delayed from my actual trip to the cemetery, but I loved it so much that I wanted to blog on it anyway. My trip to Glasnevin Cemetery was a mandatory field trip by my Irish Culture class so it's definitely a place I never would have visited on my own. It's about a 15 minute bus ride from Dublin and well worth the trip!
When we arrived early Friday morning, we were lucky to be blessed with sunshine. Although it was chilly, the sun warmed us as we went on our tour through the cemetery. Glasnevin is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland and its estimated that there are 1.5 million people buried there. This means that there are currently more dead bodies in that cemetery than living people walking around in Dublin! It was established in 1832 because at the time, there was no place for Irish Catholics to bury their dead and instead, devout Catholics were being forced to conduct funerals in Protestant cemeteries. Daniel O'Connell (one of the most influential people in Irish history) was outraged by this and started a campaign to start a non-denominational cemetery in which anyone could be buried. Although the cemetery began with a simple 9 acres, it has now expanded to cover 124 acres of land and our tour guide told us that if we wanted to walk from one side of the cemetery to the other, it would take us about 2 hours! This came as a significant surprise because when you arrive at the cemetery, it is very unclear just how far out it goes. It is centered around a tall tower that is Daniel O'Connell's grave and at first glance, this appears to be the extent of it.
During our tour, we visited the graves of some of the most influential people in Irish history and learned of their background and exactly what they did for Ireland. It was fascinating to hear about the revolution for independence from British rule and the issues between those of Protestant faith and those of Catholic faith over the past two centuries; but on top of it, we got to see where the leaders of these revolutions were buried.
The cemetery itself is very beautiful and while on our walk we saw graves from 1880 all the way through 2011. To this day, there are still burials being conducted and anyone who asks (even me) could be buried there. Overall, there are over 20 different faiths represented in the cemetery with people from dozens of different countries from around the world.