What was once a parade ground for the Arbour Hill prison is now the burial plot of 14 of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, the armed insurrection that eventually led to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic.
The terrace, which is made of Wicklow granite, leads to a wall inscribed with the words of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in both the Irish and English languages. In front of this wall, you’ll find the burial plot of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
It’s the final resting place for figures including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Tom Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, and Major John McBride. Many of these leaders were tried and convicted in secret, executed, thrown into the mass grave together. Beside the burial plot is a plaque with the names of others who died during the 1916 Rising. This plaque used to be embedded in the prison wall, under the watchtower.
Every May, the 1916 Commemoration Ceremony takes place. It’s hosted by the Minister for Defence and consists of a Requiem Mass in the church and ceremonies at the Grave for the 1916 Leaders, which are attended by the President of Ireland.
The cemetery also contains the graves of over 4,000 British military personnel and their families. The old British regiment headstones are now placed along the boundary walls to the right from the gate lodge toward the building, Arbour House, that now houses the Irish United Nations Veterans Association.
One of the 1916 leaders who was not executed by the British, Éamon de Valera (later President of Ireland), was interred in the Arbour Hill prison from the end of the Irish Civil War until 1924. The prison is still in use and is a medium-security prison that now houses the national center for male sex offenders.