Liberator's tomb opens to public

Thu, Oct 22, 2009, 01:00

CATHOLIC RIGHTS campaigner and politician Daniel O’Connell was remembered as a great icon yesterday during the opening of his refurbished crypt at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

The coffin can be seen and touched through a number of portals cut into the stone, which has a brass band fixed to it stating in Latin: “Daniel O’Connell of Ireland, the Liberator. To the seat of the apostles going, on 15 May 1847, Genoa. Fell asleep in the Lord, having lived for 73 years.”

Access to the tower and Mr O’Connell’s crypt had been limited for a number of decades because of damage caused to the tower by a suspected loyalist bomb attack in the 1970. It will be open to groups visiting the cemetery every day from now on.

The crypt was built between 1860 and 1868 and his Irish oak coffin was entombed beneath the tower by a large black Kilkenny marble altar stone which rests on a bed of limestone.

Glasnevin historian Shane MacThomáis said there was a complete restoration of many aspects of the crypt such as the coffin, stone work, mosaics and painting.

“He had a dream for us and a vision for us,” said President Mary McAleese. “He had a vision . . . He was the original democrat, the original human rights activist.”

O’Connell died in Italy in 1847 and is believed to have requested that his heart be buried in Rome and and the remainder of his body in a crypt in Glasnevin, beneath its 52m (170ft) round tower.

Ten of O’Connell’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been buried with him