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Sunday, 22 February 2015


22 February 1832: Glasnevin/ Reilig Ghlas Naíon Cemetery, Dublin opened its gates to the dead on this day. This place of burial was established to allow the Catholic population of the City to have a place to bury their dead without impediment. The old Penal Laws had meant that all bodies had to be interred in Protestant graveyards.


With the coming of full Catholic Emancipation in 1829 the imperative to establish a graveyard free from religious connotations took hold. When Glasnevin opened it was for the use of every person of regardless of Religion. The establishment of Prospect Cemetery coincided with burial reform and the rise of the 'garden cemetery' movement in Britain and Europe.


Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832. However the first burial, that of eleven year old Michael Carey 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.


It now holds the graves of some 1.2 million people including those of many famous Irishmen and women. Amongst those were laid to rest within its walls are Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon De Valera, James Larkin, Maud Gonne MacBride, Countess Markievicz, Ann Devlin, Brendan Behan, Michael Collins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and many victims of the Great Famine. The round tower [above] near the entrance is a monument erected in memory of Daniel O’Connell ‘The Liberator’ whose sealed coffin is held in the vault of the tower.