The first place that I love to visit when I go anywhere is the cemetery. Cemeteries are full of history. Siobhan Kilfeather spends a lot of the first chapter of Dublin:A Cultural History interweaving the historically relevant events with the religious context that surrounds them. You can tell reading through the chapter that religious beliefs run deep in Ireland. This site is an example of how far back those roots go.
The lush green hills that surround the cemetery combined with the moss covering the stones of the gravestones are eerily beautiful. The graves themselves serve to remind an observer that death comes to all. Kilfeather’s history traces the many different conquerers in Ireland’s History. This Monastic site was built around the 6th century. She mentions the Normans invading around 140 and the next invading force were the Vikings around the 9th Century. Ireland is renowned for its saints and monasteries play a big role in that.
The Celtic cross is also found in this graveyard. It is another sign of an enduring tradition. The Celtic cross is still seen today. Despite the tensions between Protestantism and Catholicism in the region, it not only endures as a Christian symbol, but it also serves as a symbol of Irish pride.
Both Kilfeather and Eavan Boland both express how hard it is to convey the history of a land through imagery and a guided tour. Likewise, this virtual view falls short of an actual experience. I cannot get a sense of the air or of the atmosphere surrounding this site. While the mossy graves give me a sense of dampness, photography, like cartography is limited. I love to visit cemeteries when I visit places because they are full of atmosphere and history, because the stories of the past can be found in the ways that the dead are remembered.