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Known as The Dead Centre of Dublin, Glasnevin Cemetery’s new museum has recently received Thea and M&H awards. Daniel Melvold fi nds out about the attraction’s new lease of life

THE BACKGROUND Prospect Cemetery, better known as Glasnevin Cemetery, opened in 1832 and is the most historically notable burial place in the Republic of Ireland. The cemetery encompasses 124 acres and 1.5 million burials, which has led to Glasnevin being known as The Dead Centre of Dublin.

THE OFFER In April 2010, the Glasnevin Trust Museum opened. Its goal is to educate the public on the history of the cemetery, the role burial plays in society, the impact that the 19th century Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell’s life had in the development of modern Ireland and to provide a genealogy research facility. Glasnevin also offers the botanical gardens of the cemetery itself.

MARKETING The museum’s brick, glass and concrete street side facade is fairly nondescript from the street. The marketing of the museum is nonexistent in both Dublin’s visitor’s centre and the grounds of the cemetery. While there is a website for the museum, it fails to really make any compelling case as to the need to visit. If I hadn’t gone to the Themed Entertainment Association’s SATE


Dublin, Ireland, UK MUSEUM OPENING Mon – Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat/Sun/Bank Holidays: 11am - 5pm ADMISSION PRICES Museum with cemetery tour: Adults €10 (£9, $14); children €9 (£8, $12; family €25 (£22, $35) Museum or cemetery tour only: Adults €6 (£5, $8); children €5 (£4, $7); family €15 (£13, $21) Gardens and cemetery: Free

80 Glasnevin Museum is targeted at people interested in Irish heritage and genealogy

conference in autumn 2010, I wouldn’t have known that Glasnevin Trust Museum exists. This is an area that the members on the board of the trust need to address.

ACCESS AND SIGNAGE Glasnevin is located in a primarily residen- tial neighbourhood, 3km north of the city centre of Dublin. The museum is easily accessed from the city centre by public transport. There’s also parking available with proceeds going towards the upkeep and ongoing restoration of the grounds. As this is a working cemetery the

signage on the grounds is kept to a mini- mum and quite utilitarian in nature. Much needed street signs, combined with a few A-frame temporary billboards on the grounds, inform guests where the museum, café, fl oor shop and restrooms can be found. While additional signage for the crematorium, advanced planning offi ces and headstone shop are not out of place for a cemetery, they’re a sombre reminder that we’re not at a typical museum and that Glasnevin is still a working cemetery.


Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association in Burbank, California

Glasnevin Museum is the fi rst Irish museum to win a Thea. Gene Jeffers, TEA’s executive director, says: “Creating a modern, leading visitor experience at a historic and beloved site, such as Glasnevin Cemetery, is always a challenge. The blending of new technolo-

The judges say: “This is an impressively sensitive and well-rounded museum, which carefully balances due reverence with

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gies with ancient stories has resulted in an extraordinary venue that enhances the visi- tor experience and expands the potential for learning about the lives, the contributions and the relevance to our modern world of the many people who are buried at Glasnevin.”

Best International Museum at the Museum & Heritage Awards for Excellence

theatricality and dramatic architecture. We were very impressed by the quality of con- cept, design and execution.”

AM 4 2011 ©cybertrek 2011

FOOD AND BEVERAGE Inside the museum there’s a 70-seat café that serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Given its remote location, the museum has a captive audience should someone get hungry during their visit.

RETAIL A gift shop is in the lobby area of the museum building. Postcards, guidebooks, books of historical and heritage interest, chocolates, and Irish gifts are sold. If none of that sparks your fancy, on the

opposite side of the staircase that leads down to the fi rst gallery of the museum, is the cemetery’s headstone shop where you can order a personalised Irish Cross for marking your fi nal resting place. Add to it a bouquet of fl owers from the fl orist shop across the main entrance plaza and you’re all set to go – when the time comes.

THE STAFF The staff at Glasnevin is polite, profes- sionally groomed and dressed for the environment in which they’re working.

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