bike tours dublin ireland

Grangegorman Military Cemetary

The name Grangegorman derives from the family Irish surname MacGormain who ruled in this area prior to the arrival of the Normans in the 12C and the word grange which means a farm.

The road outside the cemetery is called Blackhorse Lane and it gets its name from the horses, wearing large black plume headdresses that pulled the gun carriages that brought the coffins to the cemetery.

Blackhorse Lane was prone to flooding so the funeral route was changed to inside the Phoenix Park where the procession would emerge from the gates opposite the cemetery, known as the Funeral Gate, which contain three small white crosses.

The gates to the cemetery were cast by Mortons of Liverpool and were re-painted in 2011 in anticipation of a visit from Queen Elizabeth of England. Due to time pressure she did not visit Grangegorman, but she did visit the War Memorial Gardens and The Garden of Remembrance.

The older military cemetery at Arbour Hill had become full and Grangegorman was chosen as the new cemetery from 1876. The cemetery mainly catered for soldiers and their families from Marlborough Barracks, now McKee Barracks.

Marlborough Barracks was the home of the Hussars, a cavalry unit known for its flashy uniforms and love of polo, which they played in the Phoenix Park. Polo is still played on the old grounds in the Park. It is the largest military cemetery in Ireland at 5.5 acres or 2.2 hectares. The second largest military cemetery in Ireland is in Cork. Soldiers from across the British Empire who were either killed in action or died of natural causes are buried here.

The graveyard is maintained by the OPW in conjunction with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery contains the graves of soldiers from the Crimean War, 1854 – 56, WWI, 1914 – 18, the Easter Rising, 1916, the War of Independence 1919 – 22 and WWII, 1939 – 45. Soldiers injured in The Crimean War or WWI were sent to Ireland to convalesce in Marlborough Barracks and those that died from their injuries were buried here.

There are specific plots for soldiers from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and this reflects the geographic span of the British Empire in the 19C.

There are 600 military graves and 140 soldiers and sailors from the sinking of the RMS Leinster by a German U-boat in October 1918 buried here. There is also a tomb to the Unknown Soldier and a Memorial Wall commemorating those who fought in WWI & WWII.

There are also around 200 children’s graves. It was not uncommon for British military personnel to adopt a local orphaned child and send them to the Royal Hibernian Military School to receive an education. The religious denominations of the soldiers buried here include, RC, COI, COE, Presbyterian and Wesleyan.  

If you are interested in researching any of the graves records are kept in the Superintendent’s Office at Whitefields in the Phoenix Park.

There are 600 military graves and 140 soldiers and sailors from the sinking of the RMS Leinster by a German U-boat in October 1918 buried here. There is also a tomb to the Unknown Soldier and a Memorial Wall commemorating those who fought in WWI & WWII.

There are also around 200 children’s graves. It was not uncommon for British military personnel to adopt a local orphaned child and send them to the Royal Hibernian Military School to receive an education. The religious denominations of the soldiers buried here include, RC, COI, COE, Presbyterian and Wesleyan.  

If you are interested in researching any of the graves records are kept in the Superintendent’s Office at Whitefields in the Phoenix Park.

On our right we see the Mortuary Chapel. The coffin of the deceased would have been kept here overnight, guarded by two sentries who stood in an alcove on each side of the door for burial the following morning. The cottage on the left was the caretaker’s residence and is known locally as Henry’s House after the last and long serving caretaker who worked here.

MARTIN DOYLE

Martin Doyle, who hailed from Wexford is the only soldier buried here to have received the Victoria Cross. The VC is the highest British Military Honour for gallantry in combat. His gravestone was paid for and erected by his old comrades. Doyle joined the British army at age 15 and served in India.

He fought in WWI in Mons, France he was promoted to Sargent Major and received the Military Medal. In 1918 in Raincourt he displayed outstanding courage in battle and was awarded the Victoria Cross. On returning to Ireland after WWI he immediately joined the IRA and fought against his old comrades in the War of Independence.

After this he joined the regular army of the Irish Free State. On retirement he joined the Guinness Company and sadly died at the young age of 40. Unusually, it was rumoured that he requested to be buried in his British Military uniform, but we know from his family that he was buried in a simple monk’s habit.

The rumours may have been spread due to the fact that he fought both for the British and the IRA and this may not have suited the political narrative of the newly formed Free State

CAPTAIN M. CLARKE

Captain Clarke took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in the Crimea in 1854. Due confusion about orders from Lord Raglan the Light Brigade charged in to a valley surrounded on three sides by heavily armed Turkish troops. Of the 630 cavalry that took part in the charge 110 were killed in action, 196 were wounded, 57 were taken prisoner and 362 horses were killed.

GUY VICARY PINFIELD

Guy Vicary Pinfield is thought to be the first fatal casualty of the 1916 Rising. He was born in England in 1895. He was stationed at the Curragh and on 24th April 1916 was sent to Dublin to secure military and government buildings from the rebels.

He was closing the gates of Dublin Castle to the rebels when he was shot dead. He was buried with five of his comrades on waste ground where the Dubh Linn Gardens now stand. It was common at the time to buried dead soldiers where the fell as there was no way to preserve the bodies in the heat of battle.

The five were forgotten about until the gardens were being renovated in 1963 and a stone slab covering their grave containing details of them was discovered. The five were reinterred in Grangegorman. Recently a gold pendant came up for auction in England. It contained a picture and an inscription with the initials GVP, a time and place of death and the Hussar’s motto ‘In Memory of Former Valour’.

Research showed this to be a pendent that was worn by his mother for her whole life and she had requested that he be left buried where he fell in 1916. So Guy Vicary Pinfield had been far from forgotten!

ALBERT PIERPOINT

Many people think the notorious British hangman Albert Pierpoint is buried here. Pierpoint took part in between 435 and 600 hangings in a 25 year career that ended in 1956.

His father, Henry and uncle Thomas were official hangmen before him.

He was also the official hangman to Ireland and carried out executions on behalf of the Irish Free State.

He retired in 1965 after a dispute with the Sheriff over traveling expenses and opened a pub with his wife.

The unfortunate soldier in this grave is not the hangman, he only shares his name.

The location of the hangman’s grave is still secret to prevent it being vandalised.

MARGARET NAYLOR

Margaret Naylor was shot on Ringsend Bridge in 1916 during the Rising and died a few days later. By a terrible coincidence her husband was gassed in Loose in France and died. The couple left four unfortunate children orphaned. The children were raised by relatives and did not find out that their parents were buried in Grangegorman until decades later.

ANZAC GRAVES

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. In this area we can see the graves from soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The gravestones are carved with the national symbols of each country for example, the maple leaf for Canada and the fern for New Zealand and the. ANZAC Day takes place at dawn every year on the 25th April including in Grangegorman where wreaths are laid in memory of the fallen.

In the corner of the graveyard we can see a memorial to the 200 children, mostly from the Royal Hibernian ilitary School. Their graves are not marked by headstones and the children are mostly buried along the wall of the cemetery.

The double headstone here is unusual and it is the only one in Grangegorman. It signifies that the two soldiers died together and afterwards it was not possible to separate their remains.

T.J. WOODGATE & G.D. CHAMBERS

The youngest soldier buried in Grangegorman is T.J. Woodgate and you can see from his grave he was 14 when he died. He was a member of the Royal Air Force. It was not unusual for people under the age of 18 to join the British army and the authorities did not look too hard if you looked old enough.

Until recently T.J. Woodgate’s gravestone stated he died age 17 but when one of my colleagues, Bernie Canning discovered his real age during her research she informed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and they updated his grave with a new stone.

G.D. Chambers was executed by the IRA during the War of Independence in Co. Clare. He was going out with an Irish girl and was rumoured to be a spy.

He was buried in a bog and locals covered his grave with a stone slab with his name carved on it. It was rediscovered and the War Graves Commission informed and Chambers was subsequently re-interred in Grangegorman in 2017.

 

1916

16,000 British troops were stationed in Ireland during 1916 vastly outnumbering and outgunning the 2000 – 3000 Irish rebels. 130 British soldiers died during the rebellion and many of them are buried here. A lot of the graves belong to the Sherwood Foresters.

They were ambushed on Mount Street Bridge marching towards Dublin and sustained 24 deaths and over 200 badly wounded. The situation in Dublin was very confusing as some of the rebels had fought in the British army at the start of WWI and many of the British troops in Ireland were Irish.

A further 120 soldiers who served in the British army in WWI and subsequently died of their wounds or in the Spanish influenza pandemic that swept Europe in 1918 are buried as are a number of British soldiers killed in the War of Independence in 1919 – 1921.

R.M.S. LEINSTER

The RMS Leinster was a mail boat that sailed between Dublin and Liverpool. During WWI it was painted in a zig zag camouflage pattern to confuse the enemy and fitted with a 12 pounder gun.

On board were some 500 hundred men, women and children from all over the Commonwealth. On the 10th October 1919 the boat set out from Dublin to Liverpool. At around 10am the Leinster was struck with a torpedo fired by the U-boat 123. It hit the mail sorting killing most of the postal workers.

The ship turned back towards Dun Laoghaire but was struck amidships by a second torpedo and began to sink rapidly. The ship sank rapidly in rough seas and more than 330 people were lost. The graves of over 140 sailors and soldiers who died on the HRS Leinster are found here, in Grangegorman.

MEMORIAL WALL

The Memorial Wall contains the names of British Soldiers killed in WWI and WWII but buried in other cemeteries in Ireland. Wreaths are laid every year on the 11th November to commutate the war dead around the world, including here in Grangegorman.

Beside the wall is a Turkish Walnut Tree planted by the Turkish ambassador in a gesture of reconciliation in 2005 to commutate ANZAC Day. 

Ok This website uses cookies in order to offer you the most relevant information. Please OK cookies for optimal performance.

 Push Notifications are disabled

hide

Bike Tours

 Add to homescreen

hide