Fulbrighting at Glasnevin Cemetery

Hanging out with Daniel O'Connell.  My photography exhibition was held in the house where he used to live, on Merrion Square.

Hanging out with Daniel O’Connell. My photography exhibition was held in the house where he used to live, on Merrion Square.

Our Fulbright shin dig included a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery.  I’d spent about an hour here, just outside the gate, one evening near Halloween when Esther was visiting. That was part of the (very worthwhile and historically accurate) Ghost bus tour and we followed it up with a visit to John Kavanagh’s “Gravediggers” pub.

The cemetery itself was started outside the city, at the same time the same thing was happening all over the USA. The American cemetery movement actually sparked the American park movement, believe it or not.  The historian J. B. Jackson explains that people found they loved going to the suburban cemeteries — which were new and had wide open (corpse-free) spaces.  These early cemeteries were well-designed and had beautiful architectural features, as you can see on the home page for Thornrose Cemetery where my grandparents lay today.  In any case, in the ten year period of the Civil War, nearly every American city built a “central” park, and Frederick Law Olmstead’s office designed many of them… and many college campuses too.

Wikipedia has some of the most interesting info online regarding this particular cemetery:

Glasnevin Cemetery (Irish: Reilig Ghlas Naíon), officially known as Prospect Cemetery, is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland with an estimated 1.5 million burials.[1] It first opened in 1832, and is located in GlasnevinDublin.

The stories I heard on our tour of the cemetery brought to life for me the history of Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell, two of Ireland’s most important political figures. Éamon de Valera and Countess Markievicz are also buried here.

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