Tag Archives: Glasnevin cemetery

First Blogiversary

by Tele Chhe - Flickr

One year ago I published my first posts here at Truth in Fiction making today my blogiversary! I haven’t always been a consistent blogger, something I’ll do my best to change this year, but I have enjoyed watching, researching, and writing for this blog.

Truth in Fiction doesn’t fit neatly into one category. I’m not solely a film or book blogger and although I enjoy writing the Historical Tourist feature, I don’t travel enough to devote an entire blog to it. So when I decided to mark one year of blogging by looking back on the most popular posts of the year, as measured by the number of page views recorded by WordPress, I was pleased to find that the posts covered a variety of categories.

The leader in page views benefits from an attention-grabbing title as well as curiosity about the subject. Wellington’s Boots was written after I spotted a pair of the Iron Duke’s creation, while visiting his former residence of Walmer Castle. The display also included Wellington’s 1839 letter to his shoemaker instructing how a pair of boots should be made. So far 423 people have learned the history behind these enduring boots!

When I visited Ireland’s Glasnevin Cemetery in 2009, I was surprised by the number of people who arrived for the guided walking tour. I assumed the cemetery in North Dublin would be off the beaten tourist track but it has been both a popular tourist destination and a popular post. Over the past year 239 people have viewed The Historical Tourist visits Glasnevin Cemetery and “glasnevin cemetery”, “www.glasnevintrust.ie”, and “glasnevin heritage centre” have all been used multiple times as search engine terms. I’m glad to see that this important historical place remains a popular choice.

My review of The Young Victoria is the most popular movie post on Truth in Fiction and ranks number three overall. Written as part of a Victoria Day-themed series of posts, The Young Victoria has been visited 226 times. Many of the visitors have been searching for whether parts of the film were true or false and among the search engine terms used to find the post, which I have left to their original wording and spelling, are: “the young victoria was albert shot?”, “why did the young victoria have to escorted on the stairs?”, “what did Melbourne advice young victoria to do that upset the people!”, and “young victoria king’s birthday speech”. Hopefully my review of the film was able to answer all of their questions!

Rounding out the top five are two very different book reviews. I raved about Morgan Llywelyn’s 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion, in a post viewed 175 times so far, praising her meticulously researched fictional re-telling of the Easter Rising and her ability to bring historical figures to life as compelling characters.

I was less impressed by Gillian Gill’s joint biography of the Queen and her Prince Consort We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals, but the popularity of the film The Young Victoria likely helped generate the 134 views of this post.

On this anniversary I’d like to thank everyone who does read Truth in Fiction and especially the fellow blogging members of my family, who can always be relied upon to leave comments and offer encouragement. Hopefully my second year of blogging will continue to be as informative and fun as the first!

© Tela Chhe | Flickr Creative Commons



Filed under Blogging

The Historical Tourist visits Glasnevin Cemetery

Officially known as Prospect Cemetery, Glasnevin is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland. It spans 120 acres and over one million individuals have been laid to rest within its limits, beginning with Michael Casey of Francis Street, Dublin. Amazingly this one cemetery contains many of Ireland’s best known public figures, including statesman Daniel O’Connell, who achieved Catholic Emancipation in 1829, Home Rule proponent Charles Stewart Parnell, and Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a mining magnate whose art collection is now housed in the magnificent Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

The history of “Ireland’s Necropolis” begins with the repressive penal laws. England’s conversion to Protestantism during Tudor rule left the problem of what to do with the neighbouring Catholic Ireland. In the early eighteenth century several new laws were passed discriminating against Catholics. Under the penal laws Catholics could not vote, were excluded from most public offices, could not be called to the bar and, of course, could not sit in parliament. These laws also placed restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services. As a result Catholics conducted their own services in Protestant cemeteries.

In the 1820s an incident took place at St. Kevin’s cemetery during which a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for only performing a limited version of a funeral mass. The incident provoked a public outcry and Daniel O’Connell, a Catholic who was able to practice law due to the Catholic Relief Act 1791, prepared a legal opinion to prove that there was no law that forbade praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. The “Act of Easement of Burial” Bill passed and nine acres at Glasnevin were bought and consecrated. O’Connell’s push for a cemetery where both Catholics and Protestants could bury their dead in dignity became a reality.

The most visible feature in the cemetery is the round tower marking O’Connell’s grave. Erected in the 1860s to honour “The Liberator”, O’Connell’s body rests in the crypt beneath. When I visited Glasnevin in March 2009, O’Connell’s crypt was locked but the tour guide admitted our group, providing this admirer of O’Connell with a unique thrill that I will not forget. A notice on the cemetery’s website http://www.glasnevintrust.ie states that as of October 22nd O’Connell’s crypt was officially opened as “a fitting tribute to his memory and an appropriate place for those of us who owed him so much to come in respectful pilgrimage”. Access to the crypt had been limited due to damage caused to the tower by a suspected loyalist bomb in 1971. On the beautifully painted walls O’Connell’s dying wish can be read, “My body to Ireland – my heart to Rome – my soul to Heaven.”

Inside Daniel O'Connell's crypt.

But O’Connell is not the only noted statesman to be buried at Glasnevin. Also buried is Charles Stewart Parnell, who was president of the National Land League and leader of the Home Rule movement in the 1880s. Although his affair with a married woman caused his fall from political life, the “uncrowned King of Ireland” (a title also given to O’Connell) remains popular. More than 200,000 people attended his 1891 funeral and in 1940 a gravestone of granite from county Wicklow was erected with just one word, “PARNELL”.

Parnell's gravesite.

More recent burials include the famous Michael Collins, who fought in the General Post Office in the 1916 Easter Rising and was a member of the delegation who negotiated the Anglo-Irish treaty, his contemporary Eamon de Valera, author of the Constitution of Ireland and two-time President of Ireland, and Countess Constance Markievicz. Markievicz became the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament (in 1918), but in accordance with Sinn Féin policy she refused to take her seat. She was instead a member of the ‘First Dáil’ , established by Sinn Féin MPs elected to the House of Commons during the 1918 General Election, in which she was Minister of Labour.

Grave of Michael Collins.

With the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaching, the cemetery is undergoing restorations and there are plans for a new heritage centre which will form a suitable introduction to the cemetery. The Glasnevin website displays a virtual map and an index of notable grave sites. By clicking on the marker, those interested can read biographies of the deceased.

Few places offer such a deep connection to Irish history as Glasnevin. The cemetery offers daily guided tours at 2:30 P.M. for five euros. These tours last one and a half hours and are a wonderful way to learn some of the fascinating history of Ireland, and to admire the architectural artistry of the many monuments.

Base of a beautiful Celtic Cross.


Filed under Historical Tales, The Historical Tourist