Wrapping up the First Tour
To finish the wonderful Pat Liddy walking tour (Part 1, Part 2), we explored the Goldenbridge neighborhood on Dublin's west side.
Today, Richmond Barracks aren't much to look at, but they played a pivotal role in modern Irish history. It was originally built as, you guessed it, a British military barracks. Troops lived and worked in the fortified complex. Before the 1916 Uprising, Irish soldiers enlisted and were stationed here before being shipped off to the Continent to fight in World War I.
|Richmond Barracks Exterior|
The barracks saw another, darker use in 1916. After the surrender of the rebels in the 1916 Easter Rising, many were arrested and held here. Many of the leaders of the Rising were courtmartialed and sentenced to execution here at the barracks before being taken to nearby Kilmainham Gaol and infamously executed. News of the executions reached England, and the Prime Minister traveled to Dublin immediately to halt the slaughter of prisoners... But he was too late.
As previously reported (and overly simplified) here, word of the executions got out among the Irish people, and the public tide turned to support the rebels.
Among those arrested and held here were Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins, both of whom escaped execution and went on to lead the rebels to ultimate victory several years later.
Not much remains of the buildings, but plans are reportedly in place to restore the barracks as a historical landmark as part of the 2016 centennial of the Easter Rising.
|Goldenbridge Cemetery Graves|
Near Richmond Barracks, protected by high walls on all sides (but open to the Pat Liddy-led group today!) is Goldenbridge Cemetery. This 19th-century establishment was novel in its time as a non-religious cemetery. Protestants and Catholics alike could be buried with their chosen rites here. Before the passing of a hard-fought law, Catholics had to be buried with Protestant rites in Protestant churchyards.
When Goldenbridge was first established, grave robbing was not uncommon. A market still existed for fresh corpses at medical colleges, and bodies were often buried with jewelry and gold teeth intact. To prevent this disturbing practice, a guardhouse resembling a Greek temple was built and staffed in the middle of the cemetery.
|Goldenbridge Cemetery Guardhouse|
Another consideration not often in the minds of Americans is cholera. Dublin (like many other European cities) suffered its share of cholera epidemics through the years. Goldenbridge fell slightly out of favor during one of the outbreaks, as it sat on a hill above the surrounding neighborhood's wells. Doctors didn't have much with which to combat the disease, but enough was known about infections at the time to take precautions with sick people and dead bodies.
Among the last buried here in the cemetery are W.T. and Louisa Cosgrave. William Cosgrave was an important political figure during the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the ensuing Irish Civil War.
|Grave of Cosgrave|
Today, the cemetery is peaceful, quiet, well-kept, and available for visits by appointment only. It is part of the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum system in Dublin. We haven't yet visited Glasnevin, the flagship political cemetery in Dublin, but we hope to do so soon.
That wraps up the first (of several!) free walking tours led by Pat Liddy and put on by Dublin City Council. Look for photos and brief, half-remembered accounts of more tours as we take them.
Pat Liddy's Professional Dublin Tours