Simple steps to survey an historic graveyard

When we run our workshops we cover a lot of ground and 'learn by doing'. The average training session lasts two days and our training manual is twenty pages long - but most people learn the system without even using the manual. People sometimes ask us to condense the system further and this is a quick attempt to do so.

In the training workshops we cover 3 Simple Steps to Surveying an Historic Graveyard/Cemetery and the system has been used to publish everything from small rural graveyards to very large urban cemeteries.

The system feeds directly into our own site but it works equally well for building a dataset to upload to any digital database.

The simple steps are  Read more »

One of the most important headstones in Ireland

In our recent survey of Glendalough graveyard we looked at, and photographed every headstone. Each headstone is unique and some stand out as being exceptional for a variety of reasons. This headstone is exceptional within the graveyard but also internationally. Yet so many visitors are unaware of this hidden treasure and one of our hopes for the Glendalough Heritage Forum is that they will develop a trail of the 18th century headstones of Glendalough. Read more »

TB related burials in Kishkeam, Cork

Every community survey we work on is different - we follow the same process but every workshop is different because of the people. We worked in Kishkeam, north Cork, last week and the community volunteers were exclusively men. They were almost all farmers so they came and went throughout the day to fix a machine or attend a calving. They had a detailed knowledge of their own family history and also that of their neighbours. Read more »

Abbeylands in Ferrybank - 19th and 18th century headstones on the side of the River Suir

This report is about a training programme organised and funded by the Kilkenny Leader Partnership and is written by Kate Parsons who is part of a Transition Year class run by Ms. Helen O'Connor of Abbey Community College, Co. Kilkenny. The survey is part of a training project funded by Kilkenny Leader Partnership. The students are basing their survey on work by Michael O'Sullivan published in Decies 1994-1997.

We are a Transition year class who took up the Historic Graves project as the main topic in our Environmental Studies module. At first I think that everybody was apprehensive to what we would have to do in this project, none of us really understood it, although, as the project was explained to us, we all started to see how exciting this project would be.

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Surveying with feeling

A stroll through St. Finbarr's cemetery in Cork

With a spare hour on my hands last week I parked at the front gate of St. Finbarr's cemetery and strolled around as the morning sun painted the place in an occasional golden light. Turning right, inside the gate I took the high road to find a particular headstone, carved by a particular man, for a very particular man and once I found that stone I strolled further afield. Read more »

Two similar headstones in Ardmore, Co. Waterford

Ardmore graveyard is iconic - the late round tower, the early church and cathedral and the adjacent 8th century beannachán (relic church for St Declan) form a compact group enclosed by a curving road to the west and a stream and glen to the east. This is the graveyard where the very first Historic Graves recordings ( were made and since the early days here in 2010 we have gone on to work in over 400 graveyards throughout Ireland and more recently in the UK. 

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Killeagh graveyard by the N25

Anybody who has driven the N25 from Rosslare to Cork or Kerry will have passed this graveyard in Killeagh village and it is an Irish gem well worth a visit.

As well as being so accessible it also has an excellent collection of 19th century grave memorials. Many Irish graveyards are interesting for their 18th century headstones but Killeagh has a large, varied 19th century collection. From ledger slabs to table tombs, box tombs and crypted vaults, to headstones (small and large), with footstones and rarely preserved and in situ sidetones. The sidetones are cut the same as footstones but they demarcate the sides of the family 3 ft, 6 ft or 9 ft plots and we rarely find them outside of Cork.

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Visiting the Quaker cemetery in Rosenallis, Co. Laois

There are two fascinating burial grounds in Rosenallis, Co. Laois, the Quaker cemetery and St. Brigids churchyard just up the road from that. This video is a brief tour of the Quaker cemetery of Rosenallis. Laois has a fascinating history of religious cooperation and competition and the graveyards have proven to be key sources of the physical remains of this complex past - there are Catholic families, indigenous and planted in Tudor times, Quaker families following the times of Cromwell and a range of Church of Ireland and non-conformist protestant churches and all are traceable in the burial grounds of the last 500 years. Nearby Mountmellick will be the focus of a large gathering of Quaker heritage families in 2015 and no doubt Rosenallis will receive a lot of visitors keen to remember their forebearers. Working on this survey with the local community group I was intrigued that we were in such a Quaker heartland with links to the Carribean and North America going back to the 1700s. Read more »

The 170 year old man from Doneraile

Malakey McAuliffe lived to the ripe old age of 170 - or maybe an all too short 17 years. Or was he 70?



His wife, Mary, is also commemorated on this headstone and the lettercarver got WIFE wrong and it had to be fixed.So a likely blunder with an age (a misheard epitaph) and a blunder with the simple spelling of wife tells us these stonecarvers had yet to learn the full skills of the trade. However, as Mary died at the age of 60 it seems reasonable that Malakey was 70 rather than 17.

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