Arbour Hill Cemetery was part of the Arbour Hill Military Prison. Following the execution of the fourteen leaders of the 1916 Rising by firing squad over a number of days from the 3rd of May to the 12th of May 2016 in Kilmainham Gaol, their bodies were immediately moved by truck to Arbour Hill for burial.
General Maxwell had ordered the digging of a large pit, a mass grave in Arbour Hill to hold the bodies of all those he intended executing. Although all the families of the executed leaders each requested the remains of their loved ones for burial, General Maxwell refused. He feared that their funerals would attract and arouse sympathy and support and that the rebellion leaders’ graves would become places of pilgrimage. So instead, in the early hours of the morning, with few witnesses, their bodies were buried together in a quicklime pit. A sympathetic sergeant major however put a numbered brick at the head of each of their bodies and kept a list of their names.
Years later, the Irish Republic converted the military cemetery to a place of remembrance for those that had died for Ireland. A low mound surround on a granite terrace forms the official grave of the 1916 leaders, bearing each of their names written in concrete. Behind the graves is a wall with a cross and The Proclamation of The Irish Republic – written in both Irish and English.
Arbour Hill is free to visit and is situated only a short walk away behind The National Museum at Collins Barracks -along the quays. The museum, which is situated in a magnificent large old British Military Barracks, is well worth a visit and has a large selection of 1916 items on display.