During one my class outings in Dublin, we went to Glasnevin Cemetery; it is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland with an estimated 1.5 million burials. It first opened in 1832, and is located in Glasnevin, Dublin.
Prior to the development of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant cemeteries.
The outcry encouraged Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and formulate a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.
Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832. The first burial, that of four year old Michael Casey from Francis Street in Dublin, took place on the following day in a section of the cemetery known as Curran’s Square.
The cemetery was initially known as Prospect Cemetery, a name chosen from the townland of Prospect, which surrounded the cemetery lands. Originally covering nine acres of ground, the area of the cemetery has now grown to approximately 124 acres.
Glasnevin Cemetery remains under the care of the Dublin Cemeteries Committee. The development of the cemetery is an ongoing task with major expansion and refurbishment work being carried out at the present time.
Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for over 1.1 million people.
Glasnevin Trust digitised their cemetery records and made them available for guests to use our Online Genealogy, this is a great addition to anyone creating a family tree or conducting historical research.
We visited Glasnevin Museum, where exhibitions such as City of the Dead, O’Connell, The Man who Discovered Ireland and our current seasonal exhibition in the Prospect Gallery “Ghastly Glasnevin” and the Ace of Spades told witty tales of cemetery life.