I don’t know what it is about cemeteries. It’s not an attraction I’ve always had but one that developed weirdly in adulthood. I think it started when we visited Glasgow Cathedral. I can’t remember if it was closed and we didn’t want to waste a trip or if we just found ourselves with spare time and wandered up the hill for a look. You could see there was a graveyard on the hill. We learned later that it is a Necropolis, which made it cooler, even though I still don’t know what a Necropolis is. I do know that, instead of grave stones, there were these fucking ornate monuments marking a lot of the graves and each one was grander than the next. Thus began the curiosity.
Temperature: 57 f | Wind Speed: 8 mph | Miles this month: 57.14m | Miles this year: 83.54m (1,916.46 to go)
The next weird little graveyard semi I got was when I watched One Million Dubliners, a documentary about Glasnevin Cemetery. I have the DVD and nothing to play it on. It is on Amazon Prime for free at the moment, too. I would urge any one with an interest in Irish history, documentaries in general, or a morbid curiosity around the Irish attitude toward death to watch it. I can’t go as far as saying that it changed my life but it moved me like no other documentary ever has. I watched it at the Boston Irish Film Festival and there were people openly weeping as the directors came up on stage to answer questions after it. Long story short, my next trip to Ireland brought me to Glasnevin for a tour and it was really great. All of the guides have different personalities but ours had this dry wit that leant itself perfectly to a tour of a working graveyard – three different funerals passed our group during our hour-long tour.
On my cycles over the last couple of years, I’ve passed a lot of graveyards and they always get me thinking. There’s a particular one that is just off the Tri-Community Greenway that I pass most frequently and often take a ‘shortcut’ through. If you look at the map below, you’ll see some squiggly lines in the middle. That’s where I like to do a couple of loops in the graveyard. The pavement is terrible there and I regularly let an audible ‘fuck’ as I round a curve at speed and am confronted with a huge pothole. I was passing through the other day and, at the moment that I wondered to myself if it was disrespectful to silently cycle around the graveyard, some absolute ass-clown on an ATV tore across the graveyard at break neck speed with the engine at full throttle. I decided that the sheer fact I was wondering if I was being disrespectful meant that I probably wasn’t. There’s always some gobshite that will make you feel better about yourself.
I’m not worried about the people who inhabit the graveyard. They’re dead and either don’t know or don’t care. If they do care, then that’s their problem and they need to find something better to do with their afterlife. I’m thinking more for those visiting their loves ones and looking for some peace and reflection time. I know I visit the graveyard in Moylough every time I am home. It’s not out of a particular sense of duty. I usually just end up there with someone else and it’s interesting to see what order they visit the graves in, what they have to say while we’re there, and the memories of people who might not have been as much on my radar. If I’m on my own, it’s great for a little quiet contemplation. You think about the deaths of grannies, uncles, neighbors. You remember the days surrounding their deaths, funerals and burials. It’s always interesting to see what other life memories they were involved in that crop up. Having been away so long, there are always new graves that take me a little by surprise. If I were at home, they would be the talk of the town for days but, increasingly often, they are a passing detail at the arse end of a conversation with the aul lad weeks after the funeral.
Anyway, I cycled through the graveyard today and now I’m going to watch One Million Dubliners and have a good cry for myself before bed. I’m also going to fail spectacularly with my monthly mileage goal and will have some work to do in the summer months but I’m not panicking. I know that I’ll knock out 200 miles during a 10 day stretch in July, like I usually do. I just have to make sure I’m not so far behind that 200 miles doesn’t make a good dent in the difference.