Pere-Lachaise in Paris may hold the remains of Oscar Wilde, and may be known for its beauty and grandeur, but in Dublin, we have several cemeteries to match it in splendor, and one that holds amongst many others, the remains of Wilde’s direct descendents. Mount Jerome Cemetery, like many of Dublin’s burial grounds, sits innocuously behind high stone walls in the middle of Harold’s Cross. But behind the walls lies a resting place of almost 50 acres that has seen over 300, 000 burials.
You don’t generally think of a cemetery as a place to go sightseeing, but Mount Jerome, bought by the then newly formed General Cemetery Company of Dublin in 1836 and receiving its first burial in September of that year is an example of Victorian affluence worth a look for the enormity of some of the tombs alone. Hidden Dublin by Frank Hopkins notes that while it was envisaged that the cemetery would host both protestant and catholic burials, the first catholic burial did not take place there until the 1920′s, when Glasnevin Cemetery was closed due to a strike. James Joyce mentions the exclusion in Ulysees, saying
Then Mount Jerome for the protestants. Funerals all over the world everywhere every minute. Shovelling them under by the cartload doublequick. Thousands every hour. Too many in the world.
Imposing structures, like the Cusack family vault below can be found across the graveyard. One of the most imposing structures in the cemetery, it was built to house the remains of James William Cusack, doctor and prominent member of the Royal Dublin Society in 1861, and continues to receive the remains of his descendents, E.P.C. Cusack Jobson was the last to be buried there, as recently as 2004.
Judging by the family crest on the door, the below vault belongs to someone by the family name of O’Shaughnessy; it stood out because instead of a family name in the centre, “per angusta, ad augusta” appears. From Latin, translated it means “through difficulty, to greatness.”
There are various parts to the cemetery, and you can see from plot to plot how burial customs changed over time. From statement making vaults like the Cusack one, to the less grandiose, door into the side of a hill one’s like the O’Shaughnessy one. There are several paths leading down below ground level to lines of doors like the ones above and below. The graveyard is still in use, so the variation between crumbling tombstones and collapsing ground and modern twelve by four graves makes it a walk through time.
While Glasnevin gets well deserved recognition for its famous inhabitants, Mount Jerome is not without its fair share of graves of historical interest. George William Russell, or Æ to give him his pseudonym, lies at rest in the grave below. Born in Armagh in 1867, Russell relocated to Dublin when he was 12 years old, and went on to become a poet, a politician, and a painter of some renown. He is buried with his wife.
Young Irelander Thomas Davis lies below, his headstone engraved “He served his country, and loved his kind.” Under the leadership of Thomas Davis, Young Ireland, a political, social and cultural movement of the mid-nineteenth century, sought to unite both Catholics and Protestants to create a common Irish identity. He died at the age of 30 in 1845, three years before the failed Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848.
Below is the burial place of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The Dublin Metropolitan (D.M.P.) policed the city of Dublin, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána with the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Irish Republican Police. The RIC, or Peelers as they were colloquially known, were a force that policed most of the country apart from a couple of the major cities (who had their own metropolitan force,) were largely Roman Catholic also have a plot that can be seen in the image directly under this one, The text is worn down on the RIC headstone, and it was difficult to make out anything legible.
Thomas Drummond, member of the Royal Engineers, and one time Irish Under-Secretary lies below. A man whose dying words, when asked whether he would like to be buried in his native Scotland or Ireland replied “In Ireland, the land of my adoption; I have loved her well and served her faithfully, and lost my life in her service.” He is credited with inventing the ‘Drummond Light’ which enabled the first ordnance survey of Ireland and the UK. But in his political life he was a controversial figure, often petitioning for the underdog; he set about attempting the biggest overhaul of the Irish Poor Law system in 1838. A statue in his memory sits opposite Daniel O’Connell in City Hall.
While Oscar Wilde may lie buried in a perspex sheet in Paris, his family lie in the tomb below- his father, “Occulist to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria,” mother, Jane Francesca, “‘Speranza’ of The Nation,” his brother William and sister Isola. There is a dedication to their son and brother on the tombstone that reads “Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills WIlde, Poet, Witt and Dramatist 1854- 1900.”
JM Synge underneath, author of amongst others, the Playboy of the Western World; the cause of riots when it first debuted in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Born into the ascendency class in 1871, he was more at home with the speech and stories of the Irish peasantry, and died at an early age, in 1909 of Hodgkins Disease.
Below sits the family tomb of Arthur Guinness II; the name needs no introduction. Arthur Guinness the first lies in a graveyard in Oughterard, however it is this Arthur that is credited with making Guinness Ireland’s largest brewery by 1840. There are fourteen members of the Guinness family interred in this vault.
I included the image above because, after a fruitless search, I cannot find who Dowager Countess de Lusi is. If anyone could shed any light, please give us a mail or comment below. The Alexander Findlater family tomb below warrants inclusion here, if only to mention the fact that the Findlater Mountjoy Brewery was second only to the Guinness brewery in the production and export of it’s ales, stouts and porters in the mid nineteenth century. The Findlater family were one of the largest food and drink distributors of food and drink across Ireland and had a stake in Dublin Electricity Light Company.
Like Glasnevin, Mount Jerome is still an operating graveyard, mourners passing with flowers to graves in the newer part of the cemetery gives a sense of perspective. While we’re here looking at grandiose tombs that may never see flowers again, there are others, on whose names are carved that we don’t know, are tended to regularly.
Mount Jerome Cemetery & Crematorium, 158 Harold’s Cross Road, Harold’s Cross.
We’ve written about two of Dublin’s other cemeteries here before:
Grangegorman Military Cemetery: http://comeheretome.com/2011/03/01/grangegorman-military-cemetery/