Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decay & Decrepitude in the heart of Dublin: Mt. Jerome Cemetery

With its broken and disintegrating stones, and moss and lichen covered paths, the Victorian period cemetery of Mount Jerome in Harold's Cross, Dublin, Ireland feels like a place of loss. It serves as a stark reminder of the fact that all things pass away, even stone.

I spent just over seven hours in this cemetery on an early August day marked by very odd weather. In the morning (I arrived at 8:30 am) it was very cold, with strong gusting winds. At mid morning it was very wet, with rain lashing down for about thirty minutes. By the end of the afternoon it was very warm with bright crisp blue skies. Many sections of the cemetery have an autumnal feel to them because the ground is covered with dead leaves. It is as though summer has passed them by.

Opened in 1836 by Sir Robert Shaw of Bushy Park, Mount Jerome was the first privately owned cemetery in Ireland. Shaw established the General Cemetery Company of Dublin by an Act of Parliament in 1834. The newly formed company initially planned to open its cemetery in a section of Phoenix Park; however, this application was turned down by the authorities. Undeterred, the company bought the lands and house of Mount Jerome in Harold's Cross from the Earl of Meath, John Chambre, on 23 January 1836. Thus, the General Cemetery Company of Dublin became popularly known as Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Over 250,000 people of all faiths have been interred here over the last 170 years. Still in use, one is made aware of a funeral procession entering the grounds by an undertaker who pulls a thick rope to toll a loud and lonely sounding large brass bell which hangs near the front gate.

All materials ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010
(*Click on photos to open larger version)
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