The cemetery was opened in 1876 to serve as a graveyard for the soldiers of what was then Marlborough Barracks (now McKee Barracks) and their families. Since the British Army did not repatriate soldiers killed overseas until recently it contains the remains of soldiers from across the British Empire who died naturally or were killed in action in Ireland. It also contains the remains of some killed in the Crimea. After 1923 only servicemen and their next of kin could be buried there.
Battalion badges are marked on the headstones along with the name of the person buried, their rank and the date of their death, while a very few have personal inscriptions. The Dublin Fusiliers have a large number of their members and their closest relatives buried in the graveyard. Mature trees and well-maintained lawns create a reflective atmosphere. Situated beside the Phoenix Park, the cemetery's current comparative anonymity has more to do with those buried there than with its location. It was forgotten after independence in a country forged from a bitter conflict with Great Britain, as many viewed Irishmen who had fought in the British Army as traitors.
Some of the graves were re-located to this site at a later date (nine from King George V Hospital grounds, two from Trinity College grounds, three from Portobello (Barracks) Cemetery, two from Drogheda (Little Calvary) Cemetery and one from Oranmore Old Graveyard).
The Irish Times posited upon "one of the 1916 Rising's unresolved mysteries. Why did the bodies of five British officers lie, apparently unclaimed and forgotten, in waste ground in central Dublin for 46 years?" Their bodies were then discovered and interred in Grangegorman.
The Irish National War Memorial Gardens dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914–1918 is approximately 1 km away in Islandbridge at the other side of Phoenix Park. A Screen Wall Memorial of a simple design standing nearly two metres high and fifteen metres long has been built of Irish limestone to commemorate the names of those war casualties whose graves lie elsewhere in Ireland and can no longer be maintained. Arranged before this memorial are the headstones of the war dead buried in Cork Military Cemetery but now commemorated here.
A Turkish Hazel was planted in the cemetery in 2005 by the ambassadors of Turkey, New Zealand and Australia to Ireland to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915. The cemetery is currently managed by the Office of Public Works to Commonwealth War Graves Commission standards and is the largest military cemetery in Ireland.
World War One casualties are located throughout the graveyard, and two of them are "known only to God". The Australian folk memory of the First World War can be seen in the annual Anzac Day commemoration at the cemetery. The graves reveal some details about those interred there. Perhaps the best example is the row of burials of soldiers all killed on 10 October 1918. On that day a mail boat, the RMS Leinster, was torpedoed as it left Dublin and many soldiers on board were killed.
The graves of those who were killed between April 24 and the first week of May include those of some of the 118 soldiers who were killed in the course of the 1916 rising. There are numerous graves of Sherwood Foresters and South Staffs who suffered serious casualties when they attempted to cross Mount Street Bridge on the Grand Canal. Also included are Algernon Lucas and Basil Henry Worsley Worswick, both (alongside two civilians) shot by their own side, who mistakenly thought they were aiding Rebels in the Guinness brewery.
According to the Irish Times, "Families came to Dublin Castle in May 1916 to reclaim the bodies and funerals were arranged. Bodies which were not claimed were given military funerals and reinterred in the British military cemetery at Blackhorse Avenue, Grangegorman."
Within weeks I will have more than 100,000 photographs available on Flickr and it has been suggested to me that there cannot be anything remaining in Dublin for me to photograph but anyone who believes that does not realise just much there is to see and do in Dublin. For example last week I read in the Irish Times that 1,000 students were starting at the new DIT in Grangegorman and when I followed up on this bit of information I discovered that there is a graveyard known as the Grangegorman Military Cemetery and even though it is located very close to where I live I never heard of it before.
Today [09/09/2014] I decided to visit the cemetery and walked over to Manor Street to get the number 37 bus to Blackhorse Avenue. When I arrived at the bus stop I was a bit disappointed to discover that I would have to wait for about twenty minutes for a bus to arrive but then a local from the area [a retired gas fitter returned after about 40 years] stop and asked me if I was interested in learning about the area and when I said yes he provided some really useful information which I will follow up on over the next few weeks. I should mention that if you are a tourist you really do need to take information supplied by Dublin locals with a ‘pinch of salt” as much of it can be totally untrue.
Visitors to Grangegorman Military Cemetery are advised that the gates are normally unlocked but if not, please contact:- OPW (Office of Public Works), Whitefields, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8 Tel: 00 353 (0)1 821 3021 or the Caretaker, Martin Rogers Tel: 00 353 (0)86 7373979.
The cemetery was opened in 1876 and was used for the burial of British service personnel and their near relatives. It contains war graves from both world wars. Some of the graves were re-located to this site at a later date (nine from King George V Hospital grounds, two from Trinity College grounds, three from Portobello (Barracks) Cemetery, two from Drogheda (Little Calvary) Cemetery and one from Oranmore Old Graveyard).
The "Leinster" graves are in several trenches in the different denominational plots.
A Screen Wall Memorial of a simple design standing nearly two metres high and fifteen metres long has been built of Irish limestone to commemorate the names of those war casualties whose graves lie elsewhere in Ireland and can no longer be maintained. Arranged before this memorial are the headstones of the war dead buried in Cork Military Cemetery but now commemorated here.
There are now 613 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war, 2 of which are unidentified, and 12 of the 1939-1945 war, 1 of which is unidentified, commemorated here.
I should take this opportunity to thank Martin who was more than helpful during my brief visit.