Glasnevin Cemetery is not where you might expect to find Ireland’s only Thea award winning visitor attraction and in fairness, not what I would normally recommend as a family day out? But the new museum at Glasnevin is so good, it’s hard to put into words.
Death is something we all have to face at some stage and far from being macabre or morbid, the Trust’s imaginative, sensitive and respectful handling of a difficult subject is to be applauded along with all the other accolades it has picked up since it opened in 2010.
Every Dubliner has some connection with Glasnevin and their excellent new online genealogy service is helping people from all over the world retrace their Irish roots. And to celebrate their first birthday the Glasnevin Museum are giving away 10 free vouchers to their Irish American friends for the best comments on this post.
Over a million people have been buried there, many in unmarked graves, since it was founded in 1832 by Daniel O’Connell, who believed every citizen had a right to a proper burial regardless of their religion which is why it remains secular to this day. Modelled on the Pere Lachaise in Paris, it doubled as a pleasure garden in Victorian times with elaborate mausoleums and clipped yews lining the maze of pathways, which are in constant need of repair and upgrading which the Trust hopes to have completed for the anniversary of our Independence in 2016.
The new museum (just inside the main gates) is on 3 levels with the tour starting underground in the Necropolis (City of the Dead). A scrolling screen displays the names of all the people buried there on a loop which takes 10 hours to complete. There is a small theatre where the filmed introduction is shown and a charming, nostalgic display of items categorised by the professions of people that might once of owned them.
Innovative displays (interactive headstones) lend a fascinating insight into the social history of Dublin, you can even eavesdrop on the gravediggers conversations. Upstairs there are further interactive displays (with great views) including a 10 metre timeline with a detailed history of the great and good (and not so good) buried at Glasnevin and an exhibition about Daniel O'Connell. The iconic new building is stunning, with good facilities (of course) a shop and a nice restaurant.
Susan Byron author of http://www.irelands-hidden-gems.com
To enquire about the online genealogy facility visit http://www.glasnevinmuseum.ie
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