Or so I was once told.
Today was cold in Dublin, but the trip to Glasnevin was still amazing. I know when I spoke about the grave of Yeat's that I promised I was not someone who ran around visiting the graves of the famous dead, so this post will make me look like a liar, but Glasnevin was an experience I recommend.
Before we all think I wandered to some little graveyard in Dublin, let me put it in perspective. There are 1.5 million people buried in Glasvnevin- That is more than people living and breathing in Dublin today (around 1.2).
Glasnevin is credited to the great emancipator, Daniel O'Connell. For those thinking Irish history is still irrelevant (and if you do, why are you reading this? Go outside!), O'Connell's ideas on non-violent protest to achieve change inspired people like Ghandi, his campaigning on the behalf of Catholics allowed them to sit in Westminster and saw a large contribution to the end to the Act of Union in Ireland. O'Connell's ideas were formulated in France, where he attended school under the patronage of a wealthy uncle. To attend in Ireland at the time wouldn't have been allowed, as Catholics were unable to do so until 1782. While there, he witnessed the French Revolution and became passionate about freedom for Ireland. O'Connell's tomb is stunning- if you don't mind the coffins of his family piled in a corner. As you wander through it (and it is worth noting the tomb is reached by descending a staircase- the structure is built to mirror the style of tomb mound structure like Newgrange- O'Connell being passionate about Celtic culture and history), you note the darkness of the 'round tower' that stands guard over Glasnevin- You can wander into the base of this, but not up the once-spiral staircase that stood there. This was blown up by loyalists in 1971- They aimed for O'Connell's tomb, but the round tower operated in the fashion of a gun barrel. It blew up the staircase and straight out of the roof.
So admired is O'Connell that most major cities in the western world have a street named after him. Sydney- I'm looking in your direction!
A mention should be made of a massive boulder in the centre of a fenced off area within Glasnevin. This is the eternal resting place of the no-doubt restless Charles Stewart Parnell, the man who was once considered the 'uncrowned King of Ireland'- the Protestant who we thank for the modern 'whip' system in parliaments around the world, the hero who pushed for a more just system in regard to land laws in Ireland, and the man central to the Home Rule campaign. Parnell's brilliant political career would eventually end in scandal- he was living with a married woman- and he died not long after. Perhaps the high of his heady climb in politics being snatched away had simply been too much.
Glasnevin has several other important graves- But the Fenian section is remarkable. To stand by the grave of the feminist and nationalist Constance Markievicz, who when on trial for her role in Easter 1916, demanded to be executed, the same as the men she was equal to- was somewhat inspiring. I wish I had more time- I would have done some hunting for Joseph, Patrick and Christopher Poole- one of them is sure to be there. A celtic cross also marks the resting place of John O'Leary- famed as a Fenian and immortalised in Yeats' poem:
"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave."
Not far away one finds the grave of Eamon de Valera (Dev, as they say with affection or amusement), a small grave when compared to the large role the man had in Irish History. It is perhaps a fortunate thing that he is not that close to Glasnevin's most adored resident- the Big Fellow himself, buried not far from Kitty and her husband Felix. Glasnevin doesn't place flowers on people's graves of their own initiative, as to not appear politically inclined, but Collins' grave was overflowing with coloured blooms- including from a French woman who apparently visits several times a year for that very purpose and sends bouquets often.
I now realise this tour has become a bit of a timeline for Collins- Birthplace, life, death, resting place. Been to them all.
It is worth noting that the grave of Collins stands apart from most. It is impressive and covered in tributes.
But it does stand alone.