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Royal Hospital Kilmainham
Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Phone +353 1 6129900

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HERITAGE TRAILOfficers Cemetery

Discover the captivating history of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham/IMMA through the immersive IMMA Heritage Trail. The IMMA Heritage Trail has grown out of the success of our recent podcast series of the PAST FUTURES, co-hosted by IMMA's esteemed Heritage Researcher, Barry Kehoe, and heritage enthusiast Stephen Taylor. The trail takes you on a journey through 16 unique stops dotted around the IMMA grounds.  

Officers Cemetery

The Officers’ Cemetery was the designated burial ground for all residents of the Royal Hospital from 1680 until in the early 19th century when a new military cemetery purely for privates and NCO pensioners was established North of Bully’s Acre. The original Royal Hospital cemetery then became exclusively for the use of Officers and their families.

Historic Maps OSi, courtesy of Tailte Éireann

Some of the Royal Hospitals civilian workers also made special requests to be buried in the Officers’ Cemetery.  The area of the cemeteries was more than likely part of a larger burial ground that crossed both sides of the Western Avenue that now divides the Officers’ cemetery from the public Burial ground of Bully’s Acre.

Head stone dedicated to a Hugh and Hive Hackett in the Officers’ Cemetery dating to 1652

The Parish Church of St John more than likely had a small burial plot around it contained by a curvilinear boundary ditch, this graveyard may have endured once the Hospitaller Priory was abandoned and the burials simply migrated over time to occupy a much larger site. Evidence that point towards this development is the presence of a head stone dedicated to a Hugh and Hive Hackett in the Officers’ Cemetery dating to 1652.

Headstone in the Officers Cemetery dedicated to veteran William Proby

There is a headstone in the Officers cemetery dedicated to William Proby who died in 1700, a veteran of the battle of the Boyne and later a pensioner in the Royal Hospital. At the time of his burial the cemetery accommodated both officers and rank and file pensioners.

Monument to commemorate the Blackburn family that died on the HMS Leinster during WWI

There is a monument to commemorate the Blackburn family that died on the HMS Leinster when it was torpedoed in WWI shortly after leaving port. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Harold Blackburn and his two children died when the HMS Leinster was torpedoed leaving Dublin bay. An estimated 564 passengers lost their lives when the ship sank on October 10th 1918.

Dorothy Cross, Ghost Ship, 1999
Dorothy Cross, Ghost Ship, 1999, Two light ship models, phosphorescent paint, ultraviolet lights, video, Duration: 10 min loop, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2003

The maritime history of Ireland and its long litany of disasters is something that an island nation can never completely forget. The work Ghost Ship in the IMMA Collection by Dorothy Cross taps into that fear of the sea and the darkness of unknown currents in the depths where light can barely reach. A light ship in luminescent silhouettte gives us hope that our journey across the cold dark waters will not end in tragedy.


The IMMA Heritage Trail is kindly supported by An Chomhairle Oidhreachta / The Heritage Council and the Office of Public Works. OSI Historic map details are provided courtesy of Tailte Éireann.

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.