Finding monumental sculptors in Ireland.

The people who put up headstones have many names.

Stonemason, stonecutter, lettercarver, sculptor, and monumental sculptor are a few that come to mind.

Sometimes, about 1% of the time, we find the stonecutters name carved on the bottom of the headstone. It'll say something like Fecit D McCarthy.

Which is latin for D McCarthy made this! Read more »

Living and dying in Ireland 100 years ago. How to follow the clues!

Peter O'Connor died in Cork city, Ireland, in 1909. He was only 1.5 years old. The cause of death was natural and a woman called Margaret O'Connor paid for his burial. Presumably his mother but maybe not.

Read more »

Using the 1911 & 1901 census for tracing Irish ancestors

It's the most important digital resource for Irish family history and genealogy!


As one of the main women behind it, Dr Caitríona Crowe, said though, it's a digital copy of the census, not _the_ census.


Here's how to use it!

Step 0 - search your address/townland name in and find your place- write down some of these; town, townland name, street & electoral division.


Step 1 - Go to the homepage of the National Archives website. Read more »

Surname searches using Historic Graves Family Search Page.

When we started doing the Historic Graves Project I thought we'd get about 100-200 Irish surnames.


How wrong could one archaeologist be?


Growing up in Cork city I thought I knew most Irish surnames - O'Connell, O'Callaghan, Lyons, Sutton, Hurley, Connery, O'Mahoney, Varian, O'Keeffe, were the surnames that surrounded us - my own surname didn't quite fit in though cos I think we were the only Tierney's in a school of 1000 students. Our teachers were Daly, Olden, Lynch, Hannon.


A few years into the Historic Graves Project though, we did a surname search - we had 3,500 different surnames registered from Irish headstones! In 2017 we found we had 8314 different surnames.


Now our main tool for searching those names is the family search page. Enter your surname, forenames, dates and even pick a specific graveyard - hit enter and off you go. The results will be 100% the product of hundreds of surveys by hundreds of local Irish communities and surprisingly interesting. Read more »

Lost in Ireland - trying to avoid it.

I've been lost in every county in Ireland. 

I like it. Being lost.

Unless there's somebody waiting at the other end. Don't like that feeling as much.


As a city 'boy' rural Ireland was a strange country to me. Except for a small pocket of S Limerick, the rest of Ireland may as well have been Ontario or Florida until my early 20s. I liked geography at school and I knew the names of rivers and mountains but I couldn't tell you was Duhallow a town, village or what? 

But being a field archaeologist changed that and doing historic graveyard surveys changed it considerably.  We are now invited to small rural parishes all over Ireland & the UK. We now delight in the winding rural road, cutting deep into a hillside and being met on arrival with a handshake and a 'welcome!'. Read more »

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 »

Jacinta Kiely Newstalk Interview with Sean Moncrieff 07032014

Jacinta was on the Moncrieff Show on Newstalk ( this afternoon and gave a broad introduction to the Historic Graves Project, emphasizing the collaborative nature of the whole thing. We have the software and the methodology while the communities have the knowledge, the grá, the heritage and local authorities and Leader development companies have the ethos and imagination to support the overall project.

The interview can be heard towards the end of the above link or more directly here Read more »

Vectorising simple graveyard sketch plans

We train communities to do simple sketch plans of historic graveyards ( The gravediggers 3 ft or 1 m pace is key to drawing a simple but accurate sketch plan. With our friends in Glanmire, Co. Cork we have been surveying Rathcooney graveyard. We did the standard pencil on A4 sheet drawing of the older section of the graveyard and uploaded it to the website and now Robin Turk has vectorised the drawing for the group. We did it as an experiment to see how long it would take. It took a few hours to do but I think it is very atractive and clear. Read more »

How-to Signup to Become a Transcriber


A short video showing how to signup and become a member of the Historic Graves website and project. Read more »

Video of rubbings in Shanrahan, Co. Tipperary, and a very fine headstone


Under the shadow of the Knockmealdowns Tony & Mark took to the recording of the graveyards of south Tipperary like ducks to water. Mark is a geographer and Tony a retired builder so they both had a strong spatial sense and a tidy approach to dealing with paperwork.

This video shows the lads doing their first newsprint rubbing in Shanrahan graveyard. The group of graveyards from Newcastle, Tubrid and Shanrahan have a distinctive iconography of carving in the tympanum (top part of headstone). Common motifs in the Arma Christi headstones are the Pillar on which Our Lord was scourged entwined with the rope which bound him and this is clearly seen in the rubbing. Read more »

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