East Cork Historic Graveyard Surveys in 2011

On a recent field survey in the midlands one of the trainees remarked 'There are more people in graveyards now than are attending mass!'. A slight exaggeration maybe but it does reflect the growing engagement in Ireland with the care and conservation of historic graveyards. One group in Cork city are surveying St. Finbarr's Victorian cemetery and publishing their work to Google Maps (http://g.co/maps/ygzjk) and we are working with a neighbouring group on St. Josephs cemetery (http://historicgraves.ie/graveyard/st-joseph-s-cemetery/co-stjh) on Tory Top Road. Read more »

John Murphy and the Burgery Ambush in Dungarvan

Eddie Cantwell has been busy surveying historic graveyards in West Waterford and publishing stories associated with the graveyards and graves. One of the most famous events in the War of Independence was the Burgery Ambush (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgery_ambush and http://www.waterfordcountymuseum.org/exhibit/web/Display/article/22/6/). This ambush in 1921epitomises the violence of the time when communities were riven and there was blood on the streets of Ireland.

John Murphy was a key munitions expert for the West Waterford IRA in 1921 and it was his capture which prompted the ambush outside Dungarvan. In this (http://historicgraves.ie/story/john-murphy-1876-1977) Historic Graves story Eddie fills us in on the role of John Murphy in West Waterford affairs and also shows us where the man found peace at the age of 91, in Garranbaun graveyard (http://historicgraves.ie/graveyard/garranbaun/wa-grbn).

Matehy Graveyard in County Cork - spelling and lore (how did headstones end up in a riverbed)

When I look out the side window of my house, I gaze upon the newly erected signposts at the crossroads pointing to Cork, Berrings, Kanturk, and the more exotically sounding Mathey. I gaze upon this final signpost in disbelief because with all the European money and intellectual savvy, the signpost-makers have unforgiveably misspell and hence mis-represented one of the defining characteristics of my hinterland. ‘To be named is to exist’ and amongst the people who live in and aound this small rural hamlet the extraordinary legend of how it got its distinctive name is paramount. Read more »

Stories from Portnahinch Co. Laois

Last month I spent a wonderful evening in the front room of Margaret Corcoran’s farmhouse which is located a short distance from Portnahinch graveyard in Co Laois. Margaret is a graduate of an Historic Graves workshop and has surveyed and published the Portnahinch graveyard memorial stones on the Historic Graves site. Margaret had gathered a group of local interested people so that we could record some stories to add to the Portnahinch section on the website. Those gathered were; Rena Mc Evoy, Jack Kelly, Michael Keegan, Paddy Moore, Seamus Gorman, Carlo Westman, Tom Westman, Jack Hyland, Alan Robinson, Tom Cunningham, Margaret Corcoran and Matt Corcoran. Read more »

A Duel at Dawn and Other Stories

Michael O’Connell and the Ballineen Enniskeane Area Heritage Group (BEAHG) recently launched a book entitled The Story of Old Ballymoney A History from Headstones. The book is the second publication by the group and focuses on the many fascinating stories and mysteries contained within Ballymoney graveyard close to the twin villages of Ballineen and Enniskeane in Co. Cork. The previous publication provided the raw data in the form of a plan of all the graveyard memorials and a record of all the legible inscriptions. Michael O’Connell believes that one of the major achievements of the group was the unravelling of the mystery surrounding the lost dedication for the old church at Ballymoney. Read more »

A Must For All Graveyard Enthusiasts

The Historic Graves project has had the pleasure of working with Gerry Mullins on a number of our Graveyard recording workshops. Gerry has recently launched a new book Kilnahue Churchyard Gorey: A survey of the Iconography and Inscriptions. He is an expert on the iconography and symbols used on Irish grave memorials.Graveyards and memorial stones are rich in iconography and symbols whose meanings would have sung out to the people who commissioned and erected the stones. We have partly lost the ability to understand the symbols and what they represent. Consequently we can sometimes find the experience of walking around old graveyards as silent journeys through stories we are no longer able to read or hear. Read more »

A Little Bit Every Year

Camin O’Brien in his Guidelines for the Care, Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards emphasises the need for an annual maintenance regime and he recommends that the motto to adopt when it comes to graveyard maintenance is a ‘little bit every year’.  Read more »

From Santa Claus to Cromwell in Galway

The church of St Nicholas in Galway has a treasure trove of stories. It is linked however tenuously in some cases to the Knights Templars, Santa Claus, Christopher Columbus and Oliver Cromwell. It is also said to be the largest medieval parish church in Ireland still in use. Galway’s bustling market surrounds it on Saturday’s and local and international musical groups ranging from traditional to choral occasionally fill it with music. There are stone carvings of mermaids and gargoyles protect the vaulted south porch and throw water of the roof through their spout holes.  Read more »

Personal memories related to National Commemoration Day 2011 in Ireland

Today, the 10th of July 2011, is a National Day of Commemoration for servicemen and women who have died in wars or in service with the United Nations. Nearly every family in Ireland will have a story that relates to family members who died in service. My own great-grandfather is commemorated in Thiepval having died in WWI and I will tell his story here some other day.

For today I will relate a personal memory from 1980. We grew up in married quarters in Collin's Barracks on the NE side of Cork city. Married quarters consisted of four large accomodation blocks which held about thirty families from throughout Ireland but I seem to remember a decidedly Tipperary bias to the families origins, there were Burkes, Lonergans and Hogans. The families came together on a weekly basis for mass in what I think is called the Garrison Chapel while the broader community (servicemen and families) came together for Passing Out ceremonies, Christmas parties and less regularly, army funerals. Read more »

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