I am fascinated by old cemeteries. Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living. In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries, Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant stories of the Irish nation.
Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics have also been buried there since the 1920s. It is an older monument type of cemetery. There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,in case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward. There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). But the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky. Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.
The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe. This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment 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 churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass. The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare 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.” This was not that long ago. Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower. We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower. We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery. This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt. One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.These caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him. There is only one caveat, only their bodies can be stored here. No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them. I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.
The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).There are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave. This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”
Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.The Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.