One of the most attractive places in Dublin is not a cathedral or a bridge over the Liffey but a cemetery just off a busy main road north of the city centre. On a sunny day at Glasnevin Cemetery, row upon row of white and grey graves gleam in the sun and the lofty O’Connell tower creates a striking focal point against the backdrop of a blue sky. The peaceful silence of the cemetery is only broken by the odd tour guide as they tell stories of some of Ireland’s most famous historical figures interned in the earth below.
The tour is a fascinating way to discover the stories of the famous internees of Glasnevin but to get the most out of it you should have at least a basic knowledge of the last two hundred years of Irish political history. The tour opens with a fiery oration of a famous goosebump-inducing call to arms from 1916 revolutionary leader Padraig Pearse. Moving from grave to grave the stories of locally famous historical figures, like Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera and Charles Parnell are then told by obviously knowledgeable tour guides.
After a bomb damaged O'Connell Tower in 1971 it has been off limits to visitors until very recently but thankfully is now open and climbable once again. There's also an ultra modern visitor centre where you can get a bit more detail on the cemetery and the historical events surrounding those you'll hear about.
Glasnevin is north of the city centre and not within walking distance but it’s still easily accessible by bus with a number of regular services stopping right outside from O’Connell Street.
Whilst in the area you should pop into The Gravediggers Arms at the rear of the cemetery where reputedly you can get the best pint of Guinness in Dublin. My palette is not that strong so I’ll leave that judgment up to you.