Earlier in the summer some of our Committee members organised a visit to Dublin, primarily to view the temporary World War 1 exhibition running in Glasnevin Cemetery, but also to include other military highlights.
Our first port of call was to Arbour Hill Military Cemetery where 14 of the executed leaders of the Easter 1916 insurrection are buried including Padraig Pearse and James Connolly.
Following this we called to Grangegorman Military Cemetery where many World War 1 casualties are buried including 9 of our own Kilkenny men. Many of these were wounded on the front and sent home to recover. Also buried here are many of the military personnel who lost their lives in the sinking of mailboat HMS Leinster on 10th October 1918 when she was torpedoed off the coast not far from Dun Laoghaire.
Next we visited Glasnevin Cemetery which was commemorated recently in the excellent documentary “One Million Dubliners”, narrated by cemetery historian the late Shane MacThomáis and shown recently on RTÉ television. Well worth a watch if you get a chance. It is hard to imagine but approx. 1.5 million people have been buried in Glasnevin since its opening in 1832. Walking through this graveyard is like walking through the pages of history, it really reminded me of Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Buried here are so many notable Irish people such as Presidents Éamon de Valera and Seán T Ó’Ceallaigh and also Michael Collins, Daniel O’Connell, , Charles Stewart Parnell, Countess Markievicz, Brendan Behan, Christy Brown and Luke Kelly.
The cemetery is in the middle of a major restoration project and odd as it sounds is a very pleasant place to visit, beautiful and peaceful, a nice place to walk, stop and think. There are lots of benches around and at the front of the cemetery there is a museum, shop, florists, restaurant and very importantly toilet facilities. We spent a few hours here but could easily have spent more time. In recent years two memorials dedicated to 208 World Wars 1 & 2 casualties buried here were relocated to the front of the cemetery and a Cross of Sacrifice erected there.
Our last port of call was to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge. This memorial is dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who lost their lives in the Great
War 1914-1918 and also commemorates all other Irish men & women who served, fought and died in the war. The memorial gardens are located within a larger park area and on such a beautiful day it was lovely to see families here having picnics, little kids playing, kicking football or cycling. There is plenty of free parking at the entrance to the park which is located on the banks of the Liffey across from the Phoenix Park. These gardens had fallen into neglect throughout the 1970s/early 80s but were extensively renovated in the late 1980s. Within the gardens are 4 bookrooms containing books with the names of all 49,400 deceased and one of which contains the Ginchy cross, a wooden cross built by the 16th Irish division and originally erected on the Somme.