Goldenbridge Cemetery reopens after 150 years
An Irish cemetery founded by Daniel O’Connell in the early 19th Century has reopened to the public after almost 150 years.
Goldenbridge Cemetery in Dublin was the first non-denominational graveyard on the island of Ireland – and was used by people of all religions and none.
O’Connell, an MP who led the campaign to end religious discrimination against Catholics, opened Goldenbridge in 1828.
It shut over a dispute with the British War Office but reopened at the weekend.
Until now, the gates of the two-acre site in the Dublin suburb of Inchicore had been locked and visits were permitted by appointment only.
About 250 people attended a rededication ceremony at the graveyard on Sunday, which marked the opening of the site as a historical landmark and a working cemetery.
They heard an extract from a speech that O’Connell made at the original opening ceremony 189 years earlier, and a wreath was laid in his memory.
The Irish barrister and politician founded the graveyard at a time when Catholics were banned from having their own dedicated cemeteries.
They were also banned from taking seats in the House of Commons and many other public offices.
That began to change when O’Connell, a Catholic Irish nationalist from County Kerry, won a Commons seat to represent the County Clare constituency in 1828.
His election helped to pressurise the government into passing the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act, which restored many of the civil liberties they had lost after the Reformation.
Goldenbridge cemetery is now run by the Glasnevin Trust, and members of the public will now be able to buy new grave plots at the site.
The trust is is the largest provider of funeral services in the Republic of Ireland and is governed by the Dublin Cemeteries Committee, which O’Connell established in 1828.
Among the graves at Goldenbridge is that of first leader of the Irish Free State – William Thomas (WT) Cosgrave.
He served as the first President of the Executive Council – effectively the first Irish prime minister – from 1922 to 1932.
Cosgrave’s legacy divides opinion and his grave has been vandalised in repeat attacks.
Last year, it was one of 12 graves badly damaged days before the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
However, at the time the chairman of Glasnevin Trust, John Green, told the BBC he could not be sure the vandalism was politically motivated, as the site was regularly a target for serious anti-social behaviour, including drug dealing.
It is hoped the reopened graveyard will have potential as a tourist attraction.
The project coincided with the refurbishment of the nearby Richmond Barracks, a former British Army site, as an exhibition centre.
Source: BBC News – Northern Ireland