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  • Northside West

Towering glory!

Monday, 16th April, 2018 8:00am

Story by Jack Gleeson
Towering glory!

The O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetry is open for viewing: PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Towering glory!

The O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetry is open for viewing: PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

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NORTHSIDERS can get a stunning, birds-eye view of the city for the first time in decades thanks to the reopening of the iconic O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Built between 1855 and 1869 to commemorate Daniel O’Connell, the tower once offered unrivalled panoramic vistas to those fit enough to climb its winding, wooden steps to the top.

However, in 1971 it was bombed by suspected Loyalist paramilitaries. The blast destroyed the staircase and blew out the tower’s windows.

The force was such that it resulted in a large crack that spread up through its granite. The crack can still be seen today, and while the structure remained largely intact it was sealed up and declared off-limits for safety reasons.

The O’Connell crypt was reopened in 1991 and a programme put in place to restore the tower to its former glory. In 2016, Glasnevin Trust in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW) began work to reinstate the staircase and complete the repairs. 

Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Green said the completed work means Dubliners and visitors to the cemetery can once again experience the full magnificence of the mausoleum.

“Of course, we remember O’Connell through the bridges, streets, and squares named after him, but as we approach the centenary of the founding of our state we must remember how important O’Connell is in our nationhood,” he added.

“O’Connell lit a beacon for the peaceful parliamentary political process, a beacon carried on by Butt, Parnell, Redmond and, perhaps more significantly, every Taoiseach since the end of the civil war.

“Hopefully the exhibition inside the tower will not only enhance the climb but also help to reinstate Daniel O’Connell to his rightful position in the pantheon of Irish leaders.”

Last Friday (April 13) the newly installed 198-step staircase was officially opened with the help of students from O’Connell School in Glasnevin, who laid a time capsule at its base.

Also there for the ceremony was Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe and Commissioner of the OPW, John McMahon.

“In recent years, Glasnevin Cemetery has become a unique and unmissable Dublin attraction,” said Minister Donohoe.

“Developing from a traditional cemetery, and the resting place of more than one million people, to the home of the wonderful museum and visitor centre and an exceptionally engaging and entertaining tour, it draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

“The restoration of the iconic O’Connell Tower, with a newly installed staircase that promises unparalleled views, adds yet another string to the already fulsome Glasnevin Cemetery bow.

“It is a privilege to be here today, alongside the students from the local school that takes O’Connell’s name, to see the results of the extraordinary work undertaken by the OPW and the Glasnevin Trust.

“It is testament to the man we refer to as the Liberator and one of the seminal figures in Irish political life.”

Entry to the O’Connell Tower costs  €12 for adults and €9 for students, children and seniors or €28 for a family of two adults and two children. 

An adult must accompany children and those under the age of eight are not permitted to access the tower. 

The price of the ticket includes entry into the exhibitions in Glasnevin Cemetery Museum and €5 credit to perform genealogy searches on the cemetery’s extensive records.

The O’Connell Tower at Glasnevin Cemetry is open for viewing: PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe with students from O’Connells School and their time capsule that will stay in the O’Connell Tower.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here