Last week, I took my parents to a few of my favorite spots around the city, one of them being Glasnevin Cemetery up on the North side of the city. Now I know it sounds totally morbid to go hang out in a cemetery, but it’s actually incredibly peaceful and a lovely sanctuary from the tourist traps and busy downtown area.
Before the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, there were no Irish Catholic cemeteries in Dublin under British rule. After a long legal battle and campaign championing the rights of Catholics, the cemetery was established in 1832. It has since become the resting place for many Irish heroes, including Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Daniel O’Connell, and Charles Stewart Parnell. With nearly 1.5 million internments, Glasnevin Cemetery is enormous and it’s quite stunning to see the ocean of graves across the grass.
There is something profound about being in this graveyard because every time I come here I end up having great conversations with whoever I’m with. Long talks about being present in life, what the future may bring, and loss we’ve felt in the past; laughter and memories of loved ones who have gone already; a connection to family that goes beyond life. I loved spending time here with my dad and my stepmom – to hear about my relatives with both reverence and joy. To hear stories that are told in that lovingly sarcastic tone that only comes with time and retellings.
On our way out we stopped at the famous Gravediggers pub, located right outside the Eastern gates of the cemetery. Legend has it that the gravediggers would stop in before burying the bodies, leaving the casket on one of the pub’s tables. I asked the man behind the bar which table was the infamous spot and only got a mischievous smile and a “those are only stories…” 😏
If you’re around Dublin and are looking to get out of the city centre for an afternoon I highly recommend this area. Between the cemetery and the Botanic Gardens, which I’ll be sharing next, it’s a great way to see a new part of Dublin. Cheers!