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An Intriguing Walk through Ireland's History at Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery offers you an opportunity to walk among the headstones of fascinating characters from Ireland's past. As you stroll through the tranquil atmosphere you will absorb some of Ireland's complex history. Founded in 1832 by Daniel O'Connell as a place where Catholics could be buried, this cemetery is the final resting place for 1.5 million multi-denominational people. Guided and self guided walking tours are offered daily. There is no charge for the self guided tour and maps are available at the museum gift shop. Ireland has a cool, damp climate that changes rapidly from sunny to rain. These are my favorite travel rain gear items, a travel umbrella and a packable rain jacket.

Standing 180 feet above the cemetery including the 7ft high cross on the top, the O'Connell Tower commemorates the life of the 19th century political figure and cemetery founder Daniel O'Connell. O'Connell was a peaceful warrior for Catholic rights in Ireland. At the end of a 50 year career fighting for Home Rule for Ireland and equal rights for Catholics, O'Connell traveled to Italy on a pilgrimage. He passed away on this trip. It was his death bed wish that his body be buried in Ireland and his heart in Rome. He is buried at the base of O'Connell tower and his descendants are buried in the crypt. The tower was damaged in a 1971 bomb blast. The tower and crypt have since been restored and are open to the public.

Glasnevin Cemetery is truly the guardian and storyteller of 19th and 20th century Irish history.The original section of the cemetery is surrounded by high stone walls with watch towers built to deter body snatchers. As you stroll around the headstones you will find the graves of all types of fascinating characters from Michael Collins, who was killed in the Irish civil war of 1922 and is buried with 187 of his soldiers around him, to Luke Kelly from the Dubliners. The knowledgable guides will regale you with entertaining antidotes of many. The most poignant is Angels' Plot, where stillborn babies are buried and serves as a Memorial to the mass graves created during Great Potato Famine and the Cholera Epidemic.

Whether you choose a guided tour or pick up a self guided map and walk the tranquil grounds on your own, don't miss the Museum with the 1916 Easter Uprising Exhibit and a History of the Cemetery Exhibit. There are 1.5 million burial records stored at Glasnevin Cemetry. With the admission to the Museum you receive a ticket to do an ancestry trace of a member of your family. As part of the museum, there is a delightful cafe and gift shop.

Have you been to Glasnevin Cemetery? Share your experiences below so we can all learn from them. Ready to book your trip to Dublin, head over to for great hotel prices.


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