So Once Was I: Forgotten Tales from Glasnevin Cemetery


Warren Farrell


May 2024

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‘Remember now as you go by, as you are now so once was I …’

From unmarked plots to striking monuments, Glasnevin Cemetery has become the final resting place to a microcosm of Irish society since it opened its gates in 1832. Every grave has a story to tell, but with more than a million souls resting there, many have been forgotten.

So Once Was I sets out to celebrate the quirky, strange and sometimes unbelievable tales of lesser-known figures in Ireland’s famous cemetery. Representing all threads of Irish society’s rich tapestry, from lion tamers to pioneering aviators, the mistress of the macabre to a mysterious, murderous count, forgotten revolutionaries to the mammy of Irish cooking, the cemetery’s population is reanimated in this book through vivid retellings of their lives. This intriguing tour through the national necropolis brings back to life those Joyce called the ‘faithful departed’, an intricate mosaic of stories rediscovered among the grandeur of Glasnevin’s famed monuments.

Praise for So Once Was I 

‘Farrell’s skill in this hugely promising debut is to take the lives of a hugely diverse range of people –  Napoleonic War soldiers, lion tamers, gynecological surgery pioneers and stars of the Dublin stage – and give them all a ‘voice’. This excellent book works on several levels – a conversation on death, on transience and fading fame, on Ireland’s past, and on the physical level, in exploring the history of the cemetery itself – the sculptors and artists who created the more ornate gravestones and memorials.’ – Tomás Conneely,

‘Thought-provoking’ – The Irish Farmers Journal


Strange Things
Murder and Mystery
TV, Movies and Stage
Pioneers and Innovators
Chisel and Hammer
Writers and Poets
Religious Figures
Conflict, Revolution and War Disaster
Politics and Law
The Research: Some Essential Points

About the Author

Warren Farrell from Inchicore, Dublin, is a first-time author with a passion for social history. A Maynooth University graduate in Politics and History, he furthered his education with a Masters in Secondary School Education. He has since shared his love of History and Politics as a secondary school teacher with many students in Dublin. Warren now works as a coordinator for Trinity Access Programmes at Trinity College where he works with students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since 2016, Warren has worked as a tour guide in Glasnevin Cemetery.