Sunday, May 24, 2015

One Million Dubliners

Tonight I screened the documentary One Million Dubliners.

Our final resting place is something most of us try not to think about. At least not until later. When we're old.

But as the years go by, and more loved ones are lost, it's hard to avoid having the conversation about what the wishes we have in the event of the unthinkable.

For much of the residents of Dublin, Ireland, there's only one choice: Glasnevin Cemetery. Since 1828 everyone from the working class to the most famous of political activists have been buried there with the philosophy passed down from it's founder Daniel O'Connell, "To bury people of all religions and none."

Welcoming those of all faiths, as well as atheists and unborn/stillborn children, the cemetery has become such a cultural draw that it is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland. This film, narrated primarily by employees of the cemetery, tells the story of its history and how it cares so deeply for the dead.

Morbid, eh? Not really. With charismatic tour guide Shane MacThomais leading the charge, the tales told here are sometimes funny, or just merely fascinating. Some of the dead celebrities have "groupies" who visit regularly; some of the workers at Glasnevin have family members of their own there. None of it is boring.

As someone with a fair amount of Irish blood and an unabashed love for the country (and Dublin specifically), I'm ashamed to say I've never visited the site. Surely I have ancestors there—most people with Irish heritage do, because the dead in this cemetery outnumber the living population. After what I learned from this documentary, it will undoubtedly be a stop for me on my next trip to the Emerald Isle.

Anyone with a connection to Ireland should see it.


One Million Dubliners screened at the 41st annual Seattle International Film Festival.

No comments: