I spent last Saturday morning exploring Glasnevin Cemetery – it was a place I always wanted to visit but never got around to but after a fantastic tour by a very knowledgeable tour guide (Niall) – I’ll definitely be back.
Glasevin Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the country. It was also the first non denominational cemetery so you don’t have to be a member of a particular religion to be buried there. It is the final resting place for over 1.5 million people and for many well known people in Irish History such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Countess Markievicz, Maud Gonne and many more. For schools, it is the perfect place to learn about the lives of these people who shaped the history of Ireland.
What can we see/do there?
There is a guided tour of the graveyard where the tour guide will show key figures in Irish history who are buried in the cemetery. If your class are particularly interested in a certain time in History or in particular key figures e.g. 1916, Women involved in the Rising, people who died in WW1 etc.The tour guide can tailor the tour to suit individual classes or groups.
Inside the museum you can visit the ‘City of the Dead’ where the children first see a ‘Well of Memories’. This is a fantastic display of things that represent the lives of different people who are buried in the cemetery along with their name, age and year of death. I found this really interesting and there was a huge amount to learn about people’s lives in the past.
In this area there is also an audio visual about the history of the museum along with a section that shows the beliefs of the major world religions. There is an area about the first burial in Glasnevin Cemetery and children can also learn about archives and record keeping. There are lots of facts on pull out books which the children can learn important facts about the cemetery/burials etc. You can also listen to stories by grave diggers. Finally there is a section about grave robbing and body snatchers. This section is filled with information and is very interactive so I think the children would really enjoy it.
On the upper level of the museum is a section dedicated to The Rising and the City of Dublin. There are interactive learning panels where children can learn about different people and listen to them (actor) tell their story. This area is filled with information about the Rising and the children can also see volunteer uniforms, maps of the city showing the key locations and there are areas where children can learn about specific people who were very important during the Rising.
When you visit Glasnevin Cemetery, you will receive a voucher which allows you to look through the burial records of the cemetery. The records date all the way back to 1832 and are a really important source of information on life in the 1800s and 1900s in Ireland.
Overall there is so much to learn in the museum and I think the children will find it fascinating to learn about the lives of these people.
What age group?
I think the tour and museum would be most suited to children from 3rd to 6th class.
The tour costs €6.50 per child. (€5 per child for Deis schools). Accompanying adults are free.
- The tour lasts approximately 60-70 minutes.
- The tour can be tailored to suit classes who may have an interest in a particular area of History. (just let the booking team know in advance)
- Tours are also available as Gaeilge.
- Once you book, you will receive a pack of information by email. This pack contains all the curriculum links, along with fact sheets covering the topics of grave robbers, life in 19th century tenements, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, 1916 Easter Rising, Éamon De Valera and Michael Collins. There is also a timeline of Glasnevin cemetery. There is also a really interesting ‘On this day’ pack which tells the stories of the lives of some people buried on important days in history in Glasnevin Cemetery.
- There is a live re-enactment daily at 2.30 of Pearse’s famous speech at the grave of O’ Donovan Rossa
Glasnevin Cemetery is a working cemetery with burials 6 days a week.
- There is free parking available on site for school buses.
- There is a coffee shop in the museum to grab a quick cup of coffee for the tour.
- There is a small outdoor seating area with picnic benches for schools to have their lunch.
- There is a pathway linking Glasnevin Cemetery and the Botanic Gardens if you wanted to do a tour of both.
- Glasnevin Cemetery offers half price to teachers on Saturdays. (€6.50 each)
- It is an outdoor tour so hats, scarves, gloves and coats will be needed!
For more information see here. To book email email@example.com
Overall I found the tour to be informative, interesting and very enjoyable. I loved learning about the different people in history. It brought the people alive (*cough*) and made them seem even more real, no longer just people in history books . I could imagine the impact of Pearse’s speech at Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s grave in 1915 – an event that ultimately led to the Rising. It was fascinating to see the amount of flowers on the grave of Michael Collins – left by people from all over the world. I would highly recommend the tour for schools as I think the children will find it fascinating. The tour guide was fantastic – so knowledgeable about each grave, the lives of the people buried there and was more than willing to answer any questions we had. He also coloured each graveside story with interesting tidbits about the person that wouldn’t be found in history books. For example, Parnell was terrified of the colour green.