There are hundreds of famous and notable people buried in Glasnevin. These are just a few of the most prominent:
The hugely charismatic leader who took part in the Easter Rising and then masterminded the fight against the British in the War of Independence. He was later shot dead by republicans in the Civil War. His grave is one of the most prominent in Glasnevin and can be found close to the visitor centre. It is perhaps the most visited grave in the cemetery and is always adorned with flowers from his admirers. Nearly a hundred years after his death, he is still hugely popular and influential, although there are still some people who believe he sold out when he signed the peace treaty with Britain. More on Michael Collins.
Éamon de Valera
Like Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera is a towering figure in Irish history, having taken part in the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, founding the Fianna Fáil party and serving as both Taoiseach and President. Despite this, he has only a modest grave within his family plot. This is because he lived such a long life and his son and other family members died before him. As he approached his latter years, he said he wanted to be buried alongside his family with minimal ceremony. De Valera is also like Collins is that he can inspire strong emotions in people of like and dislike. Some visit his grave to pay their respects; others have been known to spit on it in disgust and disapproval of his role in Irish history.
Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa
A Fenian and founder member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. His funeral was one of the biggest and possibly the most important ever held at Glasnevin. It was attended by hundreds of thousands of people who were addressed by Patrick Pearse. In a spellbinding oration, Pearce referred to how the British thought they had quelled the rebellious spirit, but they were wrong: “The fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
A famous actress and reputedly the most beautiful woman in Ireland. She is perhaps best remembered now as the inspiration for many of W B Yeats’ best and most heartfelt poems. Yeats loved her and asked her to marry him several times. She always refused and instead married Major John MacBride, a soldier who took part in the Easter Rising and was executed in Kilmainham Gaol. Gonne was also the mother of Sean MacBride, another prominent figure in Irish history.
The son of Maud Gonne and Major John MacBride. He was born and brought up in Paris and French was his first language. He joined the Irish Volunteers and went on to become the IRA Chief of Staff and a government minister. He was active in the United Nations, the Council of Europe and was a founder member of Amnesty International. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1975.
The founder of Sinn Fein and one of the delegation that negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. He died at the height of his powers at the age of 50, leaving supporters to wonder what he might have achieved had he lived. His gravestone is a pillar that has been broken deliberately. It’s based on a Roman tradition in which the broken stone symbolises lost potential.
Executed in 1920 at the age of 18 for his part in an attack by the Irish Volunteers that led to the death of three British soldiers. He was immortalised in the song, Kevin Barry, which has been performed by numerous artists including the Dubliners, Paul Robeson and Leonard Cohen.
The leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Larkin was a spellbinding speaker who helped to mobilise the Irish working classes. He set up the Irish Citizen Army to protect union members from police brutality. Members of the Army later took part in the Easter Rising. Larkin is often remembered for one of his greatest quotes: “The great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.”
Other well known people to be buried at the cemetery include Dubliners singer, Luke Kelly, playwright and novelist, Brendan Behan, writer, Christy Brown, actor Jimmy O’Dea.
Also buried here is Irish-American mining magnate, Alfred Chester Beatty, Victorian poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Manchester United footballer, Liam Whelan who tragically died in the Munich air disaster.
This is only a handful of the famous people buried at Glasnevin. A brief stroll through its grounds will reveal many more.