The Bottom Line
You really should visit the Arbour Hill cemetery if you are interested in the Easter Rising of 1916 and/or Ireland's military history. If, however, you only have a passing interest and are limited on time ... give it a miss. The "sight" as such is nothing to write home about. But it is the final resting place of fourteen executed leaders of the ill-fated rebellion. If you start your tour at the GPO, walk to St. Stephen's Green, then visit the National Museum in Collins Barracks before going to Kilmainham Gaol and finally finish up here ... you really have followed the course of the Easter Rising.
- Essential visiting for those interested in the 1916 Easter Rising.
- "Hallowed ground" in both a religious and nationalistic sense.
- Interesting British military headstones on site.
- Out of the way for most visitors with only a passing interest.
- Not a "sight" as such.
- The cemetery on Arbour Hill was originally used by the British garrison of Dublin - many interesting headstones can be seen.
- In 1916 the executed leaders were anonymously buried together in a quicklime pit here.
- The Irish Republic has converted the military cemetery to the place of remembrance it is today.
Guide Review - Arbour Hill Cemetery
Arbour Hill used to be a cemetery, now it is more of a park - thanks to the Irish government's dedication to "clean up" the site and focus the attention on the fourteen executed leaders of 1916. Their bodies were unceremonously thrown into a pit and covered with quicklime. As was a traitors wont ...
When Ireland gained sovereignty over the British military installations, they of course decided to remodel the anonymous mass grave into a shrine - which it is today. Complete with names and a massive memorial featuring the declaration of the Irish Republic. At the same time the British headstones were removed, the graveyard converted into parland, the memorials stored along the outer wall. For the historian many of these memorials may actually be more interesting than the modern monument to the rebels ...
The park is watched over by a quite interesting church, today used as the chapel of the Irish Armed Forces and decorated with flags and military emblems. Also sticking out is a massive concrete wall with a modern watchtower - part of Arbour Hill Prison.
Accessible through a gate in the rear wall is a memorial to Irish soldiers and gardai killed in UN service, centerpiece of its own small park.
Is Arbour Hill worth visiting? Yes for the completist and historian, no for the casual tourist. Though access is relatively easy (the cemetery is just behind and signposted from Collins Barracks), it may be an unnecessary detour for most visitors.