Prospect Cemetery

In Brief

Hades opens with a funeral cortège heading to "the cemetery." Nearly halfway through the chapter, "The high railings of Prospect" are seen through the carriage windows, and at the very midpoint "the gates" are first mentioned. The coffin is borne through them and the mourners follow. The second half of the chapter takes place in Prospect Cemetery, a place with rich historical significance for Irish Catholics. It is located on "Finglas Road" in the near northwest suburb of Glasnevin.

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The first photograph shows the "high railings" and, in front of them, "the curbstone" on Finglas Road against which the "felly" (the metal rim of a wheel) of the carriage scrapes, as well as "the gates" and the Hiberno-Romanesque "mortuary chapel" in which Father Coffey gives Dignam the last rites.

J. J. McCarthy, Ireland's leading architect of Catholic churches in the mid-19th century, designed both the gates and the chapel, which were constructed in the 1870s. The chapel is a handsome building, but Bloom takes no interest in the architecture, thinking only, "Chilly place this," and, "Looks full up of bad gas. Must be an infernal lot of bad gas round the place."

The construction of the Glasnevin Cemetery, as it has come to be called, addressed a crying need. The draconian Penal Laws of the 18th century had outlawed Catholic cemeteries and public performances of Catholic religious rites. Catholics were forced to bury their dead in Protestant cemeteries with heavily redacted versions of the funeral mass. When even these truncated ceremonies seemed threatened after a Protestant sexton inveighed against one in 1823, Daniel O'Connell agitated for the establishment of a cemetery where people of all denominations could be buried with full religious dignity.

The new facility opened in 1832, and generations of heroic Irish nationalists have since been buried there: O'Connell himself, Charles Stewart Parnell, Arthur Griffith, Maud Gonne, Michael Collins, James Larkin, Jennie Wyse Power, and many more. Quoting from p. 321 of D. A. Chart's The Story of Dublin (1907), Gifford observes that the cemetery is the "open air Parthenon or Westminster Abbey of Catholic and Nationalist Ireland" (104). Hades pays attention to "the chief's grave" (that of Parnell) and to the "lofty cone" erected over the grave of O'Connell.

The chapter also glances at "the cardinal's mausoleum," a monument erected in the memory of Edward MacCabe, Archbishop of Dublin from 1879 until his death in 1885. The Vatican made him a cardinal in 1882. Gifford says of MacCabe that "From an Irish point of view he was a 'townsman,' with little interest in land reform or Home Rule, the two central political issues of his time."A prone sculpture of the cardinal, tended at the head and feet by four ministering angels, tops the sarcophagus within the monument.

As Bloom stands beside Dignam's grave, he thinks of "Mine over there towards Finglas, the plot I bought. Mamma, poor mamma, and little Rudy." He will be buried next to his mother and his son, then, far from his father's grave in Ennis, County Clare. The village of Finglas (now a fully surrounded suburb) lies several miles northwest of the cemetery.

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JH 2018
The front entrance of Prospect Cemetery, in a photograph of unknown date. Beyond the railings are the mortuary chapel and the round tower that stands over  Daniel O'Connell's tomb. Source: building19thcenturyireland.wordpress.com.
Grave monuments in the Glasnevin cemetery. Source: www.flickr.com.
Photograph by Robert French,  ca. 1891-1914, of the grave of Charles Stewart Parnell in the Lawrence Photograph Collection held in the National Library of Ireland. Source: www.flickr.com.
Cardinal MacCabe's mausoleum today. Source: Gareth Collins.
The entrance to the mortuary chapel today. Source: Gareth Collins.