The ‘Dead Interesting’ Tour at Glasnevin Cemetery & Museum
With over one million people buried there, Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum has a whole lot of stories to tell. Some of Ireland’s most famous people are buried there, such as Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Éamon de Valera, Brendan Behan and Luke Kelly. Visitors can enjoy superb tours of the cemetery where they can learn all about these well known historical figures. These tours have won many awards and been voted as the number 1 visitor attraction in Dublin on TripAdvisor. Now a new tour, the ‘Dead Interesting’ tour, aims to share some of the incredible stories of some of the less well known people who are buried in the cemetery.
These include the stories of a woman who died once yet was buried twice in Glasnevin, an Irish chaplain who witnessed the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp, the last Irish winner of Wimbledon and the man who cut the ribbon and opened Sydney Harbour Bridge (even though he wasn’t meant to). Whether you’ve visited Glasnevin before or this proves to be your first visit, the tour offers a fascinating look at the lives of ordinary Irish people.
One of the first stops on the tour is the Jesuit plot. This is one of the largest plots in the cemetery and it holds a remarkable range of history. There are connections to many significant historical events within the Jesuit plot but perhaps somewhat surprisingly some of the strongest connections relate to war. Visitors will learn about the stories of Jesuits who were involved in the American Civil War (John Bannon) and the First World War (Francis Browne, Paddy O’Meara), as well as the harrowing story of Michael Morrison who was present in the concentration camp of Bergen Belsen at the end of the Second World War.
Further down the cemetery is the grave of Francis Edward (Frank) De Groot (1888-1969), who dramatically and comically cut the ribbon on Sydney Harbour Bridge, Frank Stoker (1867-1939) an Irish doubles champion at Wimbledon and the grave of a man known as Skin the Goat. He was involved in the Phoenix Park Murders, one of the most dramatic events in 19th century Ireland. These killings were the fatal stabbings on the 6th of May 1882 in the Phoenix Park of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke. It’s a grim yet fascinating tale of assassins, plotters, murder, mystery and informers and the whole story can be told through the graves, memorials and events within Glasnevin Cemetery.
The harsh realities of daily life for many Dubliners in the early twentieth century is laid bare with a stop at four graves that were all opened in September 1913. The people buried there were victims in the Church Street tenement collapse, when two tenement buildings collapsed without warning, killing seven people, injuring dozens more and leaving over a hundred people homeless.
A number of strange occurrences at the cemetery are explored during the tour. These include the death of a parrot in 1911 and the curious tale of Margaret Higgins, the only person to be buried twice in the cemetery. How this came to be is an intriguing and amusing tale that visitors will scarcely believe.
Glasnevin is believed to have the biggest collection of Celtic crosses in the world and the fascinating artwork, architecture and wildlife of the cemetery is also explored during the tour, while a trip to the vaults reveals some intriguing stories about IRA arms dumps, among other things.
It really is an excellent, interesting and informative tour that compliments the fascinating tours that Glasnevin already offers. And once the tour is over, there’s still plenty left to do. If you’re interested in tracing your Irish roots, you can visit the genealogy research area, where extensive online records can be accessed. The museum shop is home to a terrific collection of Irish crafts, jewellery, mementos, historical books, and other interesting gift items, while Tower Café is a hugely popular coffee stop for visitors and locals alike. No visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the historic Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum to find out about the ‘Dead Interesting’ lives of those that are buried there.