The state of the art building is scheduled to be completed by April 2010 and will house an underground museum and over 1.5 million archived burial records compiled since the Cemetery opened 178 years ago in 1832. The innovative project, which is being funded entirely by the cemetery owners and operators, Glasnevin Cemeteries Group, is to complement ongoing restorative work at the Cemetery which began in May 2007 under the direction of the Office of Public Works (OPW).
The Glasnevin Cemetery Visitor Centre, which has been designed by architects A & D Wejchert, will encompass 1,900 sq metres (20,300 sq. ft.) of facilities and is over spanned by a curvilinear roof. The part of the building will include an innovative underground museum, “The Crypt”, located under the information centre in the original culvert or drainage system which predates the Cemetery. The pipes and vats of the drainage system will be visible through a glass floor in the Crypt Museum.
The underground museum will include: Genealogy Services: Facilities to view and search manually or via touch screen all 176 years of archived records exceeding 1.5 million burials. These records details of the burials of Daniel O’Connell, founder of the Cemetery, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, and many other people who have shaped Irish history. The “Poor Ground” records of Famine, Cholera and Small Pox epidemic victims and records of children interred in the “Angels Plots” will also be available through the genealogy services.
The museum is designed so that visitors can walk through exhibition areas and interactive displays on Ireland’s varied and turbulent past. Proposed exhibitions for this space include: Daniel O’Connell – “The Liberator”; The 1916 rebellion; Foundation of the Modern Irish State; Famine, Cholera, smallpox, pestilence outbreaks.
Speaking at the commencement of construction works in 2008, the Chairman of the Glasnevin Cemeteries Group, Mr John Greene said: “The Glasnevin Cemetery Visitor Centre will be a user-friendly and informative tourist destination that will deepen the nation’s understanding of Ireland’s modern history while respecting our primary role as a place of rest for the deceased.” He added: “The centre will also provide much needed facilities such as a restaurant and indoor seating areas for people who wish to visit the graves of their loved ones. Indeed we are confident that such comforts will lead to an increase in the number of people visiting the graves of families and friends.”
As part of the ongoing restorative work in association with the OPW the Glasnevin Cemeteries Group are integrating with the Botanical Gardens and Tolka Valley Linear Park to create a verdant green park of over 200 acres. When combined, this will create the second largest green space amenity in Dublin City after the Phoenix Park.
The Museum will also provide new and improved facilities for the visiting public and staff at the cemetery. The ground floor will contain visitor information points, a restaurant and public facilities along with family rooms. The first floor will house conference rooms, exhibition areas, The Daniel O’Connell lecture hall, Glasnevin Cemeteries Committee boardroom, staff offices and facilities.