Sarah Roller joined us as an intern from Trinity College Dublin where she is studying an M.Phil in Public History and Cultural Heritage. Her brief was to research some of the lesser known cultural figures who are buried in or have some connection to Glasnevin Cemetery and she has done an amazing job. A selection of her research can be found below.
Image: Michelle Woolnough.
Stephen Gately was born on 17th March 1976 in the Sheriff Street area of Dublin. In 1993, aged 17, he auditioned for Louis Walsh's new boyband, which was hoped to become the Irish equivalent of Take That. The band was named Boyzone, and it achieved almost instantaneous commercial and popular success across the UK and Ireland following the release of tracks such as 'Love Me for a Reason' and 'Father and Son'. Over the next seven years, and fronted by Gately and Ronan Keating, the band's albums all became UK number 1s, and they had a record-breaking 16 consecutive singles enter the top 5 of the UK charts, rivalling Take That's success during the 1990s.
Following the band's sudden split in 2000, Gately went on to achieve solo success too, reaching number 3 in the UK album charts with his album New Beginning. During this period, Gately also performed in West End musicals such as Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as dabbling in panto, and in 2007, appearing on ITV's Dancing on Ice. However, in 2008 Boyzone reformed: a move which many consider to have been masterminded by Gately - Louis Walsh touted him as the 'glue' who held the band together.
Gately came out in 1999, and despite his initial status as a heart-throb amongst teenage girls, several have described him as a champion of gay rights.
Stephen Gately died suddenly on 10th October 2009, at his holiday home in Mallorca. His body was flown back to Dublin for the funeral, which attracted huge numbers of mourners from an international audience, as well as a massive public outpouring of grief from leading figures in both Ireland and England: RTE estimated around 3,500 mourners gathered on the streets of Dublin in his memory. Gately's funeral was held as the Church of St Laurence O'Toole, followed by a private cremation ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery.
Image Credit: The Independent
For many, Maura Laverty is a household name, with her cookbooks still being used to this day.
Born in Rathangan, County Kildare, in 1907, she studied teacher-training at the Brigidine Convent, Carlow, before moving to Spain aged 17 to take up a position as governess to the young Princess Bibesco. After teaching herself Spanish, shorthand and typing, she became secretary to the Bibesco family for a short time, before taking up a position as a foreign correspondent in Madrid. Her work attracted the attention of James Laverty, a fellow journalist back in Dublin, and after lengthy letter correspondence, Maura moved back to Dublin in 1928, where she married Laverty. She continued to work as a journalist and broadcaster at RTE following her marriage and the birth of her three children - something quite unusual for the time.
However, Maura pursued her own interests in writing alongside her work and her family, publishing her own novels and writings independently from 1942. These were frequently deemed controversial by contemporaries. Most famously, however, she is known as the author of several cookbooks, such as Flour Economy (1941), and Full & Plenty (1961), in which she declared 'Cookery is the poetry of housework'.
Before her death in 1966, she also wrote RTE's first soap opera, 'Tolka Row', loosely based on one of her own works, which ran from 1964 to 1968. This was by far one of her most commercially and financially successful ventures. Tragically, she died of a heart attack in 1966. She now lies buried in Glasnevin, but her name lives on.
Willie 'The Bird' Flanagan
Born in 1867, Willie 'The Bird' Flanagan had a privileged upbringing, and was educated at Terenure College. He spent much of his adult life engaging in his favourite past-time: practical jokes. His nickname, 'The Bird' could have stemmed from several of his supposed pranks. One story suggests he drove through the streets of Dublin dressed as a yellow bird, sitting swinging inside an over-sized bird cage placed on his carriage, on his way to attend a fancy dress party, whilst another says that he appeared dressed as the Holy Ghost, before laying an 'egg' and being asked to leave.
Another favourite bird-related trick of Flanagan's was to order a large bird from the butcher (normally a goose or turkey, although some claim it was a ham) and ask them to hang it outside for collection. He would then wait for a policeman to walk by, when he would collect it in a mad dash, and run off towards the canal. When the policeman apprehended him - normally shortly after - he would present them with his perfectly legitimate receipt.
Flanagan is also known for the incident in which he rode a horse into the bar of Gresham Hotel, O'Connell Street, to request a drink for his horse. On being told it was after hours, he jumped on horseback over the bar, before jumping back and exiting the hotel - the whole incident was reportedly a bet.
In 1910, he married Esther Stafford, a Waterford girl, and the pair settled in Walkinstown. Flanagan died in 1925 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
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