A bit of Dublin culture: Glasnevin Cemetery and ANU Productions

One of the things I’m so proud of in Dublin is the sheer amount and variety of affordable cultural attractions. When I first moved to Ireland 10 years ago, I was amazed that the national museums were free to enter, and even now I have to pinch myself as I feel so lucky to live somewhere where so much knowledge and culture is widely available.

Right now though, I’d like to focus on 2 attractions that are very worthwhile seeing and very reasonably-priced.

The Glasnevin Cemetery Tour has long been on my list of places to visit in Dublin. However it wasn’t until a recent family funeral there that a spark was lit under me to go see it. It is an excellent tour (€6 when booked online), and I cannot commend our guide, Kathy, enough for her knowledge and insight. She also made it a very interactive experience by encouraging our group to ask as many questions as we like and by offering up some of her own favourite stories. They also have an amazing reenactment of Padraig Pearse's Oration at the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa every day at 2:30 till the end of September. 

As a fan of posterity, what I love most about Glasnevin is their detailed and thorough record keeping on all 1.5 million people buried there. Even the unmarked graves and mass graves of people who died in Magdalene laundries and asylums or from war, famine, and disease all have records in their extensive database. They are a truly impressive charity, and the work that they do from maintaining and restoring the graves to genealogy services and its free museum exhibitions are all so important to both the families of those whose final resting place is in Glasnevin Cemetery as well as the wider Irish community as cultural and archival resource.

The 2nd attraction I’d like to highlight is the theatre group ANU Productions. ANU specialise in interactive, site-specific plays around Ireland, though most take place in Dublin. Audiences are always small, generally groups of 10 or less,  as they are guided through the streets and buildings where the stories take place. Subjects range from the Magdalene Laundries to undocumented workers and a multi-layered look at the city and culture of Limerick. Last week I had the fortune of seeing their show Glorious Madness, about the 1916 Easter Rising. This production acted as a preview show for one they are creating to celebrate The Rising’s Centenary next Spring.

Glorious Madness has finished it’s run, but due to popular demand they are bringing back Pals, their exceptional play about Irish soldiers heading off to the battle at Galipoli during WWI. The show takes place in Collins Barracks at the National Museum of Ireland (Decorative Arts & History). It’s a fantastic piece of historical drama, but without giving too much away, there are some very intense depictions of what the soldiers went through, so this wouldn’t one to bring the kids to. Tickets are great value at €10, and be sure to book them ASAP as ANU shows tend to sell out very quickly.