The site of St Kevin's was used as a burial ground for over 400 years. Many important people in the social, economic and religious history of Dublin and Ireland are linked to it.
After the Reformation, although a Protestant cemetery, it had come by custom to be used by Catholics and the Quakers. People buried here include:
- Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley was buried there after being executed for treason in the 16th Century.
- Rev John Austin S.J. (1717–1784) a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland
- Jean Jasper Joly (1740–9 November 1823), captain of the Irish Volunteers in 1798.
- John Keogh (1740–1817) Catholic landlord, and friend of Theobald Wolfe Tone
- Hugh Leeson, brewer (whose family – the Earls of Milltown – gave its name to Leeson Street) of Russborough House, County Wicklow.
- The family of Thomas Moore
At the start of the 19th century the cemetery, like many other graveyards in Dublin, St Kevins (albeit surrounded by high walls) was targeted by body-snatchers.
OUTRAGE AT ST. KEVINS
Daniel O'Connell used the following scandal at St Kevin's Churchyard to push through legislation for the establishment of Golden Bridge (1829) and Prospect (1831) cemeteries, which led to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery (1832).
- In 1825 John D'Arcy, owner of Anchor Breweries (the second-largest porter company in Dublin at the time) died suddenly after falling from his horse. When his funeral procession from Francis St. reached St. Kevin's cemetery for burial, the sexton (by order of the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin) insisted Catholic prayers had to be said on the roadway, forbidding them being recited at the grave-side. The mourners retreated peacefully, but a huge outcry erupted as soon as the facts became known, which reached the ears of the Lord Lieutenant, The Marquess Wellesley (brother of the Duke of Wellington, and himself married to a Catholic). He expressed disapproval of Dr Magee's order, and despite much opposition (cemeteries were a valuable source of income to their owners) tried to alleviate Catholic grievances.
The present St Kevin's Church (in ruins) dates from around 1780 but an earlier church would have been present on the site since pre-Norman times. The use of the site as a burial ground has linked it with many important people in the social, economic and religious history of Dublin and Ireland over 400 years.
- The site today contains a graveyard within the wall of the church ruins, the walls of which are heavily covered with ivy. We can see many gravestones on the floor of the church, however, access is restricted to the public by a locked gate.
In the 1960s (to make way for a public park on this site) all of the gravestones were catalogued and most were removed from their original location and placed upright along the boundary walls.
- Since 1971, St. Kevin's Park has been enjoyed by local residents, students, and workers on their lunchtime break.