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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Lucca and a visit to its Duomo

Lucca’s main claim to fame is its intact 4-mile Renaissance wall that completely encircles the city.  This wall took a hundred years to build from the 15th to the 16th century, and it was never used to defend the city from outside attack.  But it was turned into a wonderful tree-lined promenade that many people in the city walk, run or bicycle around in the evening before sunset.  We have joined them in this relaxing tradition since we arrived.  Lucca walls small Lucca wall walk small Since the old town has been completely enclosed, much of it has retained the 11th to 15th century buildings.  The streets are still medieval and are so narrow that they can only be driven one way.  Many people use bicycles to get around and have eliminated the need for a car.  There are arches in the roads that lead to plazasLucca street vault small and there are 12th century wall plaques like this. Lucca 12th cent wall icon small

There are not many famous sites here so we are really living in this city, not touring it. The pace of this adventure has slowed down a lot.

There is a 12th century cathedral on the edge of the wall that continued to be built and renovated until the 15th century. It is  called St. Martin’s.  We walked there today to see it. Due to the 300 years of building, the cathedral has  architecture and styles from many periods that some how blend harmoniously together. lucca St. Martin  cathedral Here it is with its bell tower on the side. It is a Gothic arrangement with 3 aisles and a transept. You can understand how medieval people were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the church.  On the outside there are various statues and panels.  This one of a lion and another creature is very strange.  Neither David or I could figure out what he is doing.lucca St. Martin  cathedral  lion small  There are also 12 panels demonstrating the medieval tasks of each month of the year on the outside. lucca St. Martin  cathedral  month 10 small lucca St. Martin  cathedral month 12 small  From these images I would guess that you were supposed to store the wine in October and kill the livestock in December.

Inside the church there is a monument  to a beautiful young woman named Ilaria del Carretto who died when she was only 26 .  She was married at 24 to the town’s richest man, Paolo Guinigi, and they had two children.  She died giving birth to the second child. Her husband had Jacopo della Quercia, a famous sculptor, make her tomb.  He did a beautiful job as you can see.Ilaria The irony is that she is not buried in the sarcophagus but in the Guinigi chapel in another church.  She was Guinigi’s second wife, and he went on to marry 2 more times.  It was a short life for women, even ones in the upper classes.

After visiting the cathedral we went next door to the museum, where they display liturgical vestments, silver and gold vessels and ornamentation, and some tapestries from the last 800 years … in a building that’s about 500 years old itself. It was a warm afternoon and we heard some gelato calling, so we headed for home … never a long trek in this tiny town.