Glasnevin Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Ireland and as such is quite the sight to behold. It draws visitors from all over the place with its centrally-located location in Dublin, although a cemetery isn't always a place that many would think of as a premier destination to visit while on vacation. For those who have toured the grounds, however, it's nothing short of an intriguing experience, with nearly 1.5 million gravesites, some of which belong to prominent figures in Ireland's history.
The cemetery is also easily found thanks to its tower, which is the largest in the country. In terms of the museum aspect of Glasnevin, it's the first cemetery museum in the world and gives visitors an inside look at the process of burials and the inner-workings of a final resting place. This morbid fascination might not be something that everyone is interested in but it's definitely something to add to the list of 'must-do' things for those seeking something new. When it Ireland, Glasnevin is a destination that should be on everyone's list... especially if they're not squeamish around the dead or their resting places.
Touring The Cemetery And Museum
The cemetery itself was created by Daniel O'Connell in 1832, who was an Irish statesman at the time. The grounds of the cemetery are expansive, spanning a total of 124 acres, making it the largest in the country. On top of its spacious acreage, many famous people are buried within its gates, all of whom were integral to Ireland's history and the shaping of its culture. This is part of the reason Glasnevin attracts so many; not only is it an experience to tour the grounds of this cemetery, but its history with burials is truly ingrained in Ireland's culture.
The best way to see everything there is to see as Glasnevin is to schedule a guided tour. Not only will visitors have the chance to observe everything in a timely manner, but they'll be guided in the right direction - something that can be a bit confusing when dealing with 124 acres of land. The tour guides are also knowledgeable and, according to the reviews, extremely helpful in pointing visitors in the right directions, asking questions, and speaking of the history of Ireland in a way that even those who don't know a thing about it will understand and appreciate. Along the tour, visitors will hear the history of Glasnevin but also the stories that go with it, making the entire experience interactive and entertaining. Along the way, visitors can expect to see artwork that has been collected over the years, as well.
The museum at Glasnevin has received numerous awards over the years including 'Best International Museum' back in 2011. Inside of this gothic-style building, the exhibits change routinely, and visitors can check the museum website to see what's currently going on and what they can expect to see. The museum's website also offers virtual tours of the exhibits, as well as of the cemetery, which is a great tool to use, especially during this time. The exhibits on display can vary in anything from major events in history to examining the culture of a certain time period in Ireland, making a walkthrough incredibly educational and interesting. Some photos exhibits are also on display, adding a visual factor to the tour.
One of the most stunning aspects of Glasnevin is The Tower, which is dedicated to Daniel O'Connell. It was first built in 1854 after O'Connell's death in 1847. The architect behind the masterpiece was Patrick Byrne, whose notable work also included St. Paul's Church and St. Audeon's Church, both in Dublin. The entire structure took roughly 16 months to complete and a crew of hundreds to finish in time, especially with materials such as granite and limestone.
Sadly, the base of the tower was completely destroyed when a bomb went off in 1971, causing significant damage to the structure. It was finally restored in 1991 and took nearly two decades to complete, as it was finally opened for a second time in 2018. However, The Tower now has a complete history of O'Connell's life and work, including a quote inscription of his final words: "My body to Ireland, my heart to Rome, my soul to heaven," which can be found within the walls of his crypt. The Tower itself measures to a height of 180 feet before the cross at the top, which measures seven feet tall and is made out of pure granite.