Eleven-year-old Michael Carey was the first person to be buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, the most famous place to be laid to rest in Ireland.
On this day, February 22, 1832, the first burial was held in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery. While the ground was consecrated and opened to the public the previous day, Michael Carey from Francis Street in Dublin was the first person to be laid to rest there aged just 11 years old.
Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous Irish people. Opened in the 1830s with high walls and seven watchtowers that were to be manned by armed guards to deter bodysnatchers, the cemetery is practically a 'Who’s Who' of key historical figures.
However, the site doesn’t only hold the graves of the famous. Nearly 800,000 people have been buried in Glasnevin in unmarked mass graves due to the enormous death toll from the Great Famine of the 1840s and a later cholera epidemic.
In memory of the anniversary of its opening, here are the ten most famous Irish people who have been laid to rest there:
1. Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847)
Called the “Great Liberator,” O’Connell was an Irish political leader and a campaigner for Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Act of Union.
2. Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891)
The founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who was sent to an early grave by a scandalous adultery case.
3. Maud Gonne (1866-1953)
Muse of WB Yeats, Gonne was an English-born actress who was won over to Irish nationalism. Was imprisoned as a rebel leader.
4. Eamon de Valera (1882-1975)
A leader in Ireland’s struggle for independence, founder of the Fianna Fáil political party, and de Valera also served as Prime Minister and President of Ireland. Glasnevin had a new phone system installed for his funeral.
5. Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
Irish poet, novelist, and playwright who was imprisoned for IRA activity. His first play, ‘The Quare Fellow,’ was produced in Dublin in 1954.
6. Michael Collins (1890-1922)
Irish revolutionary leader considered the founding father of the Fine Gael party, Collins was killed in an ambush at the age of 32 in 1922. His funeral was a ticket-only affair.
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7. Constance Markievicz (1868-1927)
A revolutionary and suffragette, Markievicz was the first woman elected to the UK's House of Commons.
8. Christy Brown (1932-1981)
Daniel Day-Lewis played this Irish writer and painter, who had cerebral palsy, in the award-winning film ‘My Left Foot.’
9. Luke Kelly (1940-1984)
Vocalist of the band The Dubliners. One of Ireland’s greatest folk singers.
10. Arthur Griffith (1872-1922)
He founded Sinn Fein and was an early leader of the new Free State.
Have you visited Glasnevin Cemetary or taken a tour there? What did you make of the site? Which graves did you visit?
* Originally published in August 2014. Updated in February 2023.