22 February 1832: Glasnevin (Prospect) Cemetery, Dublin opened its gates on this day. The first internment was of Michael Carey, aged 11, of Francis Street.
Michael Carey was born in Dublin’s Francis Street in 1821. His father was a scrap metal dealer. Michael has the auspicious legacy of being the very first burial in Glasnevin cemetery when it opened its gates. He died aged 11 on the 22nd February 1832. His gravestone by the original gate into the cemetery points out that he was the first to be interred. From that day to now, over 1 ½ million Irish people, from politicians to poets, revolutionaries to railway engineers, from shoemakers to soldiers, have been laid to rest under the same earth as this young boy.
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.
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.
There is now a full Museum on the site that tells the story of the establishment of the institution and the stories of some of the famous and indeed infamous people interred within.