Daniel O'Connell founded this cemetery in 1832, when Roman Catholics were allowed to conduct funerals. Originally called Prospect Cemetery, it is Ireland's largest and considered its National Cemetery, because so many who were instrumental in the history of the country are memorialised here. They include:
- Daniel O'Connell, also known as "the Liberator", and known for his peaceful pursuit of Catholic Emancipation. His grave lies at the right side of the main entrance, marked by a 160 foot high tower fashioned in the style of early Irish Christian monuments.
- Charles Stewart Parnell - known to some as "the uncrowned king of Ireland" he died a year after an affair with a married woman ruined his political reputation as a hugely successful politician. He was famous for progress in issues of democratic and land reform. James Joyce spotlighted Parnell's controversy in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
- Michael Collins - Leader of the Irish Volunteers, he ordered 14 British undercover agents executed on 21 November 1920, to which British forces killed 12 spectators at a football game in retribution. This day is remembered as Bloody Sunday. He served as Minister of Finance while waging a violent urban warfare initiative, and was himself killed in an ambush.
- Eamonn deValera - Twice president of Ireland and prime minister, or Taoiseach, seven times, he was a leader of the movement for independence in 1916. After he eluded execution but was imprisoned for treason following the Easter Rising, deValera led the government for decades, shaping the nation into a reflection of many of his own beliefs and visions.
- Countess Markiewicz - A principal figure in the Easter Rising of 1916,Constance, Countess Markiewicz was the daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, and married to a Ukrainian aristocrat. After her reprieve from a death sentence for her part in the rising, she became the first woman to be elected to parliament in 1918. She later became Minister of Labour in the first Dail.
- Alfred Chester Beatty - buried here in 1968, Chester Beatty was North American by birth but Irish by descent, and made his fortune in mining. He was known for his collections of rare books and art, which can be seen at Dublin Castle at the Chester Beatty Library.
- Roger Casement - executed for treason in 1916, the authenticity of the remains buried at this gravesite remains in doubt.
- Brendan Behan - an Irish author and colorful, well-known Dublin character, his personal dedication to an independent Ireland popularized him as one of the country's most widely recognized post World War II writers.
At Glasnevin Cemetery, there are also many paupers graves to be seen, commemorating the famine and many years of enduring poverty. Separate sections are also dedicated to the Irish military men who served in various conflicts.
Roughly 1.2 million people have been interred here, and the grave monuments represent an interesting collection of Irish designs, including carved shamrocks, Irish wolfhounds, harps, and high crosses. The original wooded paths have been retained, and there are mature native trees plus imported species such as Cedar of Lebanon and Giant California Sequoia.
In Prospect Park, the oldest section of Glasnevin Cemetery, there are two watchtowers that remain from the days of body snatchers, before the Anatomy Act allowed the donation of corpses to scientific research and medical education.