Today I want to talk to you about my favorite city with my favorite cemetery in the world: Glasnevin in Dublin, Ireland. It’s kind of perfect all over for many reasons:
For those of you who have never heard of Glasnevin, let’s have a short history lesson. Daniel O’Connell, one of the most prominent Irish Catholic Civil Rights leaders, founded Glasnevin in the 1800s because he wanted there to be a place where a person of any religion could be buried with respect. There are literally millions of people buried there from Irish heroes to everyday Joes. If you want to learn more about their history check out the cemetery's website here.
The place is basically a necropolis. I walked around it for two hours one day, and I didn’t see half of it. There are more people actually buried in Glasnevin than are currently living in Dublin. And that’s just shockingly cool.
The sculptures that are these gravestones are brilliantly carved. The drapery on angels, the attention to detail in their faces, the detail on the Celtic crosses: wow. We’re talking ancient Grecian levels of attention to detail here. If you took any of these stones, rubbed off the name, and put them in a museum, you would never know it was originally a gravestone, though I wouldn’t recommend doing that because it’s bad.
There’s so much Irish history contained in this graveyard. One thing I loved about Dublin (and what I love most about Boston) is that it’s so connected to its history. From famous writers to Irish war heroes to Daniel O’Connell, it’s hard to walk around the graveyard and not be star struck if you know even a little bit about Irish history.
I say again: the stones are beautiful.
It was walking through the forest of finely carved stone that Gravedigger’s Pen came to fruition. It had been an idea stuffed somewhere in the back of my head for the longest time, but it wasn’t till I was faced with everything there and seeing all the people similarly interested in what was around us that I knew other writers could benefit from this practice.
I beg you, please, to benefit from this practice. I urge you to take an hour or an afternoon (or 20 minutes depending on how close you are to a graveyard) and go find one to write about.