Glasnevin (Glas Naíon) is a residential community in Dublin, just 2.5 m northwest of the city centre. The area has a rich history, dating back to the 6th century when St. Mobhi first established a monastery here. The vikings destroyed the monastery when they invaded, but the region remained populated throughout history.
Today, Glasnevin is one of the most unique areas in Dublin. A step out of the bustle of the city centre, it makes the perfect day trip for any one who likes history, nature, and a good pint of Guinness.
|| Glasnevin Cemetery
Located on Dublin’s north side, Glasnevin Cemetery spans 124 acres. More than 1.5 million people are buried here today.
The cemetery first opened in 1832, serving as a space where both Irish Catholics and Protestants could offer their dead a dignified burial. This had previously been difficult for Catholics under the repressive Penal Laws – a series of legislation imposed by the English state to force Irish Roman Catholics to accept the Anglican church. A large tower overlooks the grounds, known as O’Connell’s Tower. It was built to commemorate the death of Daniel O’Connell, who first established the cemetery.
Buried within the park’s walls are some of the most prominent figures in Ireland’s complex and fascinating history. These include those involved patriots and political figures like Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O’Connell, and more. The stone walls and towers of the cemetery were built to prevent body snatching.
It is free to explore the cemetery, although the Glasnevin museum offers tours daily. For those tracing their genealogy through Ireland, Glasnevin is the perfect place to start due to their extensive records and services.
|| National Botanic Gardens of Ireland
A pathway through the back wall of the cemetery will lead you from a garden of stone into a garden of life. Ireland’s National Botanic Gardens are located just next to Glasnevin Cemetery and entry is free, so it is easy to make a day of the two.
The Royal Dublin Society established Ireland’s first botanic gardens in 1790 when they were gifted Irish poet Thomas Tickell’s house and lands.
Wrought iron greenhouses and herbariums host more than 20,000 specimen of flora. Wander from the tropics of an Amazonian rainforest in one room into an arid desert in another. Outside, a traditional thatched cottage reminds passerby of Ireland’s earliest days. When the weather is nice, the park is full of visitors and locals alike. Families, friends, couples all stretch out blankets to enjoy a scenic picnic amidst the flora and fauna.
|| John Kavanagh ‘The Gravediggers’ Pub
Round out the day by grabbing a pint of the black stuff at John Kavanaugh ‘The Gravediggers’ pub. Ask nearly any Dubliner where to find the best Guinness and they’ll tell you to head to Gravediggers. The pub earned it’s nickname from the gravediggers who would head to the pub outside the walls after a long day’s work. Nestled in the back of a neighborhood, it’d be easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there. It’s a pub as traditional as they come. It doesn’t need decor because it has charisma enough. Stepping inside feels like stepping back in time. From the worn floor panels to the iron fireplace, it looks exactly like it probably did when it opened two centuries ago. The atmosphere is lively and always full of locals – and maybe even a dog or two. This isn’t the place for watching the match – it’s a place for conversation among mates and strangers. Or stay for dinner and try the coddle!
Note: Gravediggers only accepts cash, so be sure to hit the ATM before making the trek out to Glasnevin!
Check out more of my favourite free things to do in Dublin here!