PAULINE MURPHY marks the 125th anniversary of the death of the ‘Uncrowned King of Ireland’ and the inception of the annual Ivy Day comemoration on Oct 6th.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the death of the ‘Uncrowned King of Ireland’. On October 6th, 1891, Charles Stewart Parnell took his leave of this world at the much too young age of 45.
Parnell’s funeral was one of the biggest funerals in Ireland and drew up to 200,00 mourners, including a large contingent from the GAA. Parnell’s funeral took place five days after his death and the streets of Dublin thronged was with those who followed the funeral procession to Glasnevin Cemetery. Such was the size of the crowd that the funeral arrived through the gates of Glasnevin late in the night!
It was a major event and such was the strong interest and public demand, train companies put on special ‘funeral trains’ to bring mourners to the capital from all corners of the country.
In the days after, newspapers across the land published names of people who had attended the funeral in Dublin. If someone who had been to it and failed to see their name published in the paper, the editor was sure to get an angry letter from them!
The funeral made headlines across the globe. Newspapers in places like New Zealand, Africa, America and Australia, reported extensively on the massive funeral, one which was conducted on behalf of the Parnell family by Fanagans undertakers in Dublin.
Before Parnell was carried to his final resting place on the northside of the city, he lay in state in Dublin’s City Hall where up to 30,000 people passed by his coffin.
When the funeral procession took place and followed the route down O’Connell Street, (then known as Sackville Street) towards Glasnevin, Parnell’s dark brown horse, aptly named Home Rule, followed behind the hearse. A pair of his master’s riding boots dangled from the black drapped saddle.
Behind ‘Home Rule’ were former and serving members of parliament who walked in formation while carriages behind them carried members from corporations across Ireland. Several bands also made up the funeral procession while at the request of the Parnell family, no banners or flags were allowed.
The hearse containing the remains of Parnell was covered in a mass of floral wreaths while several more carriages had to accommodate the over-flow of such floral tributes.
Among the many floral wreaths that were then placed on Parnell’s grave was one sent from a lady in Cork and was made entirely of dark green ivy.