Corcomroe - Dragons, Flowers and an O'Brien Effigy

Corcomroe Abbey is an early 13th century Cistercian foundation nestled at the head of a south west facing valley in the northern portion of the Burren in Co. Clare. On a recent family camping trip to Fanore we stopped off at the Abbey for a look around and were rewarded by a beautifully presented and partly re-roofed ruin. A well tended graveyard with some modern graves, surround the ruin to the south and east. The interior of the Abbey is also covered in memorial stones some dating to the late 17th century.

The dedication of the Abbey is to St Mary of the fertile rock which could really be a description of the Burren as a whole; a place noted for its barren rocky moonlike appearance but also for the richness and diversity of the flora.  Read more »

DIY Graveyard Survey and Online Publication

Margaret Corcoran attended our second ever Historic Graves workshop at Kilmanman graveyard in Co. Laois. Margaret must have enjoyed the day as she signed up to return to Kilmanman at a later date for more. We spent two further mornings in Kilmanman graveyard surveying with one afternoon in Clonaslee community centre and the other in the Laois Leader offices in Portlaoise. The afternoon sessions were spent exploring the website and working through the process of uploading that mornings geotagged photographs. Margaret wanted to record and publish her own local historic graveyard in Portnahinch, Co. Laois and we hoped to give her the tools to make this happen. Read more »

A 13th century face from Ennisnag in Kilkenny

In the porch of St Peters Church in Ennisnag ( is a 13th century graveslab which is inscribed Johannes Filius Galfridi (John Fitz Geoffry). The slab was situated in the eastern portion of the graveyard and was relocated to the porch some time after 1952.
The lovely little booklet 'St. Peters Church, Ennisnag', produced by the local community, tells us that Johannes may be the son of Geoffrey who founded the Priory of Kells in 1193. Note the hairstyle and look out for a photograph which we will publish next week which shows the skill of the stonecarve.

GPS - Talking to the satellites

I first encountered a GPS receiver on Professor William O’Brien’s excavations at Ross Island in Killarney, Co. Kerry sometime in the early 1990s. Kevin Barton then of the UCG Applied Geophysics unit and now with Landscape Geophysical Services used a hand held receiver in order to map a surveying traverse through the fantastic Killarney woodland surrounding the excavation area. He described the technique to a befuddled group of sweaty luddite archaeology students, as establishing your position within the Irish National Grid by talking to satellites. I just didn’t believe him and as it turned out it was not so easy to talk to the satellites in a woodland environment. Read more »

Memento Mori and Gravestone Memorials

 John Tierney of Historic Graves on a recent trip to Edinburgh in Scotalnd to talk at the Digital Futures Conference took the accompanying photograph in the graveyard known as the Kirk of CanongateMemento Mori are reminders of our mortality. They have come back into vogue recently and can be used to nudge people towards better behaviour. This idea of gentle persuasion or nudging has been developed by Thaler and Sunstein in their seminal popular psychology book called ‘Nudge’. Read more »

The McGrath Tomb in Lismore, Co. Waterford

On a recent trip to the south coast of Ireland we took in the well known delights of Killarney and Kinsale and ended our southern sojourn in the  historic town of Lismore, in County Waterford. Read more »

The start of a survey at Barony graveyard, Lisdowney, North Kilkenny

Just in from a great day spent with the Lisdowney historic graveyard group. We ran a training workshop in Barony graveyard for the Kilkenny Leader Partnership and in collaboration with Kilkenny County Council Heritage officer (see their innovative historic graveyard mapping system here). One of our key tools for the first day of a survey is Geosetter, which we use to check the accuracy of the gps camera. Here we can see that 32 of the 34 photographs taken are plotting within the graveyard but you can't see two errant readings which are over a field away. Test plotting in the field allows such errant readings to be corrected, on the fly. Read more »

Recording a Graveyard Memorial

The number one conservation technique which a community group can employ in their local historic graveyard is to record the memorial inscriptions. The relentless action of the elements is slowly eroding all the stone memorials. It is a fact that modern inscription surveys in graveyards previously surveyed in the early twentieth century show that the memorials have a marked deterioration in legibility. The recording of the graveyard memorial inscriptions is also key to unlocking the rich family and social histories contained within historic graveyards. Read more »

BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed - discussion on corporeality and memorialisation

Professor Laurie Taylor on BBC 4's Thinking Allowed is worth a weekly listen and today his discussion with Dr. Kate Woodthorpe delves deeply into modern, East London, attitudes to death, burial, bodies and cemeteries.


Audio Recording - Oral Histories and Audioboo

From the outset the Historic Graves project has been about more then simply recording raw data such as location information, photographs and inscriptions from historic graveyards and the memorials contained within. The project has endeavoured to enable and encourage local communities to record the stories and oral histories attached to the graveyards and memorials. Historic Graves believes that this element of interpretation which all story telling involves should be done by the local communities themselves and not by imported experts. The tagline to the Historic Graves website reads ‘Local Stories, Local Voices, Local Places’. Read more »

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