Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

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,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin 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). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut 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.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

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.[2] 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.O Connells grave 5x7 net 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.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  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.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese 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).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere 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.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe 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.

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Adventures to Connemara and Inishmore

We have two weeks between pet sitting assignments here in Ireland, so we are spending one in the Galway area.  We have rented an apartment here near the center of the city of Galway.  The weather has overall been overcast, cold and rainy but with some careful planning we were able to catch two sunny days to tour the lovely area of Connemara and the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmore.

We took a bus tour of Connemara so that David could see the countryside (you don’t get to see much when you’re driving).  We rode the bus looking at the green countryside, the tall hills and the scattered lakes of the part of northwest Ireland.  It was stunningly beautiful.Connemara tree lake 5x7 net The bus driver Mike told us about the landscapes and the history of this part of Ireland.  We stopped for a quick break at the village of Leenane to see the start of the Killary fjord. Leenane village fiord 5x7 netThen we went on to the Kylemore Abbey.  This is a lovely castle that was built on an isolated lake by a merchant named Mitchell Henry for his wife. Kylemore abbey 5x7 net She died just four years later at 45; he was heartbroken and built this Gothic mini church in her memory.Kylemore Abbey church 5x7 net  Around the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns who had been bombed out of Ypres, Belgium, in World War I bought the property and made it into a girls school, which they ran until declines in numbers of both teachers and students forced its closure in 2010. Now it is a romantic tourist attraction.

The next day we took a bus to Rossaveal harbor.  While we were waiting for the bus, we had a hot chocolate made correctly with real milk and ground up chocolate at a small French restaurant named Le Petit Pois by a very friendly lady.  Le Petite Pois server netWe hopped on the bus to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. inishmore ferry 5x7 net We went to Inishmore,  the largest of the 3 Aran islands, and it is like stepping back in time.  When we got off the ferry we found Tomas ( he is featured in Rick Steves’s 2004 video about the island) and his red van.  There were four couples that he piled into his mini van for a 3-hour tour of the island.   He took us to the end of the island to see the ruins of the seven churches.  There are actually only the remains of two 8 – 13th century churches and a graveyard.  seven churches cross 5x7 net  Then he drove us to the main tourist site, Dun Aonghasa, which is a iron age ring fort at the edge of a 300 foot cliff.  We had 2 hours on our own here at the fort.  Tomas told us that it was a 15 minute walk up to the fort.  Well, it turned out to be a 30 minute hike up hill.

Dun Aonghasa long wayup 5x7 net

See those little people?  See that long trail of gravel and eventually big rocks? 

Here is a photograph of the last bit of the up hill trail.  David says that a little old lady was making it up to the fort , so he would too.Dun Aonghasa final way up 5x7 netWhen we made it through the rock doorway this is what we saw.

Dun Aonghasa walls 5x7 net

The trail to the inside walls.  These people were not taking any chances. This was a triple wall defense.

The walls formed a “C” shape around the cliff edge.  The cliff edge was a sheer drop down about 300 feet to the ocean.  There are no safety rails along the edge if you are stupid enough to slip and fall it is Irish natural selection. Dun Aonghasa cliffs 5x7 net Or tourist natural selection, as you can see here; that is a straight drop to the ocean.Dun Aonghasa tourists edge net

We made it back to the ferry landing with plenty of time to shop and have a drink.  When we got home , we were exhausted but happy.  We were on the Aran Islands and we love Ireland !