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.

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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 »

Ethnic cleansing and Canovee graveyard, Cork

Cork is a corrugated county, east-west valleys and ridges are key features of the landscape.


Cork people are always at the bottom of a hill or going up a hill. It has been said that our accents are forged by that fact - the Cork accent has a sing-song rythym, I'm going up and now I'm going down.

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Brambles and Fireballs in Carlow - A Visit to Pollerton Little.

On the old Carlow town to Baltinglass road is a small, overgrown graveyard. It bears the name Knockaunarelic - the small hill of the graveyard - and it is located in the townland of Pollerton Little. I thought Pollerton was going to be a local landlord's name but it is in fact related to the limestone solid geology beneath - sinkholes giving the name 'townland of the holey ground - Baile Pholaird Beag'.

We visited Pollerton Little because a local community group want to look after it - give it a cleanup and they want to do it right - taking a care and conservation approach to the place. The little graveyard was enclosed, in 1823 or thereabouts is the story locally, but it would appear they only enclosed what they could afford and burials have been found outwith the limestone wall. This is a common occurence in Irish burial grounds.  Read more »

Reviving Mill & Churchquarter graveyard, Grange, Co. Waterford



How do you revive a graveyard?




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The Survey of Old Kilcummin, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

Old KIlcummin is three graveyards in one. A core medieval churchyard has morphed into a modern cemetery (kerbs and imported polished marble), and a nineteenth century graveyard (with high, and ground, vaulted tombs) and it is more than twice the width of the average graveyard. Three in one.

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"You can have Drakes & Crowes so why not Ducks"

Names stand out in Lissonuffy graveyard in Co. Roscommon. The Duffys are here a long time and it is they who give the place it's current name. There are Brennan's here too, they and the Duffy's were the Gaelic Lords of this place. Carlos you'll see hardly anywhere else in Ireland but they are old stock under Slieve Bán in mid-Roscommon.

We're here to record the graveyard, funded by the ESB through the Windfarm Community Fund. The Sliabh Bawn Windfarm sits on the hill now covered in conifers. The hill was once farmed in commonage and covered in flocks of sheep; crisscrossed by farm tracks and medieval roadways linking places like lowland Lissonuffy with Clontuskert to the SE. Read more »

The Cure Stone of Keelogues, Sligo

Paddy Joe Gallagher is the caretaker of Keelogues graveyard in N Sligo. As a community survey team recorded the headstones in Keelogues graveyard Paddy Joe led us around saying who was buried where and when! Throughout the drizzley morning he remembered each funeral and the order of burial and in the afternoon I saw him refer to a blue notebook for some extra detail.

In this video Paddy Joe tells a story told to him by his father. Ostensibly about a McGowan man who moved a Curing Stone (a medieval stone head believed to cure that most awful of afflictions - the toothache) from the graveyard in relatively recent times it strikes me the story could be up to 1000 years old!


"A story of the stone in the pier on the left hand side coming in. If you have toothache, come after 12 o'clock at night, kiss the stone and you get rid of the toothache!

In times gone by, bt deceased Dad, who is nearly 50 years dead, told that there was a man, name of McGowan, a short distance from here, took the stone off the pier & built it ito the gable of a byre...From the day he built it...the wind started to blow and blow! And worse it got every night! Read more »

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