Glasnevin Cemetery’s O’Connell Tower to reopen to public

Restoration programme to be completed by October

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, addressing a Daniel O’Connell Commemoration ceremony near the O’Connell Tower in Glasnevin Cemetery. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, addressing a Daniel O’Connell Commemoration ceremony near the O’Connell Tower in Glasnevin Cemetery. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 13:56

Visitors to Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery will be able to climb the iconic O’Connell Tower for the first time in more than 40 years following a €200,000 restoration programme.

Reconstruction is beginning of the internal stairway destroyed by a bomb in 1971, in an attack attributed to Loyalist paramilitaries in reprisal for the destruction of Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell Street.

The work, which is due for completion by October involves the installation of a winding wooden staircase to the top of the 168 ft tower leading to a new viewing platform, which will be accommodate 6 to 8 people at a time.

“With Glasnevin on an elevated site, some 110 ft above sea level, the new facility will provide visitors with spectacular views from four windows facing North, South, East and West, from the Mountains of Mourne to Wicklow and Meath to Irelands Eye,” Glasnevin Trust said.

The round tower was built between 1855 and 1869 to commemorate the death of Daniel O’Connell, who had established the cemetery in 1832. It was designed by designed by George Petrie and its construction was funded by public subscriptions.

It was built around the same time as the Wellington Monument in Phoenix Park and Nelson’s Pillar on then-Sackville Street, now O’Connell Street. Unlike the pillar it survived the 1971 blast, thanks to the three-foot-thick granite stones of its construction. However, the windows and stairs were blown out and for safety reasons it was sealed up, including the crypt at the bottom which contains the sarcophagus of O’Connell and the remains of several members of his family in a side chamber.

In the early 1990s the trust decided to restore the crypt and following extensive work it was opened to the public in 1995. The staircase will complete the restoration programme.

Separately the trust is running an eight part lecture series starting tonight in conjunction with Trinity College on burial rights in Ireland. Details are available at glasnevintrust.ie.

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