A visit to the historic Glasnevin Cemetery is one of the most popular things to do in Dublin.
Almost 200 years old and acting as the final resting place of 1.5+ million people, the stories Glasnevin holds within its walls would stretch across the Atlantic.
There are multiple tours to choose from, including, The Irish History Tour, The O’Connell Tower Tour, The Self Guided Tour and the Extra-Ordinary Lives Tour (info on each below).
In this guide, you’ll find everything from the history of Glasnevin Cemetery and its opening hours to what to see while you’re there.
Some quick need-to-knows about Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin
Although a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Lying around 3km north of the city centre, you can take either the 40 or 140 bus from O’Connell Street which will drop you right outside the entrance on Finglas Road.
2. Admission + opening hours
Wander through the cemetery and enjoy its serenity every day from 9am until 5pm. The opening hours for the visitor centre are every day from 10am to 5pm. The various tours are priced differently. You’ll find info on each below.
So, there’s a parking at Glasnevin Cemetery for up to 30 cars. You’ll also have to pay €2. There’s more parking across the road (here on Google Maps – across from the Tower Cafe).
4. The tours
One fascinating thing about Glasnevin is the breadth of tours on offer that really showcase Irish history at its most illuminating. We’ll get into the details of them a little later, but definitely consider booking on to one of them during your time there!
5. The stories of 1.5 million people
Almost 200 years old, the stories Glasnevin holds within its walls would stretch across the Atlantic. From political struggle to inspired poetry, there are some serious tales to be told by icons of Irish history! Not only that; they’re also the stories of the ordinary folk who’ve made Dublin what it is today.
The history of Glasnevin Cemetery
The history of Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is an interesting one, and it’s arguably best discovered on one of the tours (info later in the guide).
Now, I just want to emphasise that the history of Glasnevin Cemetery outlined below is a brief one, and I won’t do it justice in just a few paragraphs.
The need for a Catholic burial ground
Before the founding of Glasnevin, Catholics in Dublin had had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead. The regressive Penal Laws had placed restrictions on Catholics over the course of a couple of centuries, including the public performance of their own services and funerals.
When a Catholic priest attempted a limited version of a funeral mass in 1823 provoked a public outcry, things started to get heated and Daniel O’Connell launched a campaign pushing for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.
Nine years later, Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832
The opening and its early years
The following day, the cemetery’s first burial took place in a section of the cemetery known as Curran’s Square and it was that of eleven-year-old Michael Carey from Francis Street in Dublin.
The plot of land used for Glasnevin was quite large (originally 9 acres but has now swelled to 124 acres) and, perhaps inevitably, it became a significant place of burial for those who lost their lives during the Great Famine of the 1840s.
In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 800,000 people are buried in Glasnevin in unmarked mass graves due to the famine and a later cholera epidemic.
A whole host of famous names
While Glasnevin contains the burial records of almost 1.5 million people, one of its undeniable attractions is the number of well-known Irish national figures who are also buried there.
Prominent political figures buried at Glasnevin include nationalist leader Michael Collins, third president of Ireland Éamon de Valera, Catholic politician and campaigner Daniel O’Connell, and nationalist MP Charles Stewart Parnell.
From the art world, there are the graves of Dubliners musician Luke Kelly, poet and novelist Brendan Behan and writer and painter Christy Brown.
The different Glasnevin Cemetery tours
The Glasnevin Cemetery tour is well worth doing. And there are 4 different types to choose from, depending on how you like to explore.
You can book tickets for each of the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum and ground tours online (see links under each tour below).
1. Irish History Tour
There are plenty of famous names buried at Glasnevin, but what gives them such significance? Take Glasnevin’s Irish History Tour to learn a whole lot more about the people and the events that contributed to Ireland’s turbulent last couple of centuries.
Expert tour guides will explain the 1916 Easter Rising and the Civil War, all while taking you around the graves of famous protagonists such as Michael Collins and Countess Markievicz.
The tour also includes a stop at the ornate crypt of cemetery founder Daniel O’Connell and you’ll hear insights into the intricate monuments and Celtic crosses that populate the grounds. Public tours are €13 (concession €11) while family tickets are €35 (2 Adults + up to 4 Children). You can book them online.
2. The Extra-Ordinary Lives Tour
With 1.5 million people buried within the grounds of Glasnevin Cemetry, you can only imagine the incredible lives that many of these people lived.
Join an experienced tour guide to learn about some of the incredible achievements and extra-ordinary lives of Dublin’s dead. You’ll visit the final resting place of writer Brendan Behan and learn more about the man who once famously described himself as a “drinker with a writing problem.”
Make your way through the cemetery, hearing about the life of poet and novelist Rosa Mulholland before heading back in time to the opening of Glasnevin and visiting its first inhabitant, Michael Carey, who was buried here in February 1982.
The tour runs every Saturday at 1 pm.
3. The O’Connell Tower Tour
While his name probably doesn’t have the same emotional resonance as Michael Collins or Luke Kelly, Daniel O’Connell is the most important name at Glasnevin, as the cemetery wouldn’t even exist without him.
Fittingly, his burial spot is grander than the others and the O’Connell Tower Tour will explain all about his significance. When you visit his ornate crypt, you’ll find out why he was known as ‘The Liberator’ and how the famous Tower came into existence.
Speaking of the Tower, are you willing to climb all 198 steps to the top? If so, you’ll be treated to some deadly panoramic views over Dublin from the not-insignificant height of 55-metres!
4. The Self-Guided Tour
If you’d prefer to go around Glasnevin by yourself, then of course, you’re welcome to do just that on the self-guided tour.
For €8, you’ll get an audio guide and a Glasnevin Cemetery map that’ll help you explore the ‘key graves’ within its walls.
Each tour ticket includes admission to a new indoor visitor experience which boasts a wide variety of exhibits, archives and interactive displays.
Things to do near Glasnevin Cemetery
One of the reasons that a visit to the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum is one of the most popular day trips from Dublin City is due to the volume of things there are to see and do.
Below, you’ll find places to visit a stone’s throw from the Glasnevin Cemetery tour, from one of the oldest pubs in Dublin to the brilliant Botanic Gardens.
1. National Botanic Gardens
Situated next door to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, the National Botanic Gardens offer the chance for further leafy peaceful solace but this time without all the dead people! Founded in 1795, they house approximately 20,000 living plants and many millions of dried plant specimens across 48 acres.
2. Croke Park
Nearby Glasnevin lies Croke Park, Dublin’s iconic Gaelic football stadium. Don’t forget, there doesn’t need to be a game happening to enjoy a visit there! Take a Stadium Tour to learn about Croke Park’s interesting history and then get a cracking view of Dublin from above on the Skyline Tour!
3. Endless attractions in the city
Head back down south towards the city centre but stop by at Parnell Square to celebrate some of Dublin’s finest literary artists at the Dublin Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre. Continue on down O’Connell Street if you want to see Trinity College and Temple Bar. Staying north of the Liffey, the Jameson Bow St Distillery is just a 15-minute walk from Parnell Square.
4. Food and trad pubs
You can’t spend time in Glasnevin without going for a pint at the legendary ‘Gravediggers’ pub, otherwise known as John Kavanagh. This no-nonsense pub does arguably the best Guinness in Dublin.
FAQs about the Glasnevin Cemetery tour
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you walk around Glasnevin Cemetery?’ (you can) to ‘Is there parking at Glasnevin Cemetery?’ (there is).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is the Glasnevin Cemetery tour worth doing?
Yes. The history of Glasnevin Cemetery is a long and fascinating one, and the tours are delivered by energetic and experienced guides.
How much are tickets for the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum?
Ticket prices vary, depending on the type of tour you choose (there are 4). Each ticket also gives you admission to the new indoor Glasnevin Cemetery Museum/visitor experience.
Where do you get parking at Glasnevin Cemetery?
So, there’s parking at Glasnevin Cemetery for up to 30 cars. You’ll also have to pay €2. There’s more parking across the road (across from the Tower Cafe).