Bully's Acre on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham is actually 3.7 acres in size. It is estimated that several hundred thousand persons were buried in the cemetery. This site was a burial ground for over a thousand years. (It is believed to hold the graves of some of those killed at the Battle of Clontarf, including a son and grandson of Brian Boru). After the Reformation there was no official Catholic graveyard in the city and many respectable Catholics were interred here. Over time it became more famous as a pauper’s cemetery, as no charges were required for burials. Circa 1760 an attempt to turn the cemetery into a botanic garden for the Royal Hospital (causing the graves to be levelled, and enclosed within a high wall) the locals (whose ancestors and relatives were interred there) were outraged and fought a pitched battle against the soldiers of the Royal Hospital one night. After that, it was restored to its original purpose. Without the walls, it was an easy target for body snatchers. In 1818, eminent surgeon John Cheyne wrote: "The bodies used in most of the dissecting rooms are derived from the great cemetery for the poor called Hospital Fields - vulgo Bullys' Acre." During the cholera epidemic of 1832 large numbers were buried here. Shortly afterwards the cemetery was closed by order of the government. (By this time Goldenbridge and Glasnevin cemeteries had opened for Catholics).

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