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.
Over the following weeks Margaret got in touch with Maurizio and signed up to the Historic Graves website which allowed her to add Portnahinch graveyard and to control the upload of the grave memorial photographs and the inscriptions. Margaret also went out and purchased one of the Sony HX5 GPS enabled cameras
which we use for our own surveys and which Margaret had been trained to use during the workshops. Maurizio worked with Margaret to set up the camera and to run through the process of uploading the photographs to the Historic Graves website. Over the following weeks we were delighted to see that grave memorials began to populate the Portnahinh page
on the website. This was followed shortly by the uploading of all the legible inscriptions. Caimin O’Brien from the Department Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht visited the graveyard to examine a boundary wall which may require conservation and also gave advice while Margaret was recording the graveyard inscriptions.
Portnahich graveyard is located on the south bank of the river Barrow, is rectangular in shape and is bounded by a 1 m high stone wall. It contains the remains of a medieval church which was marked as ‘in ruins’ on the 1841 first edition Ordnance Survey map of the area.
The Primary Valuation of 1850 lists Richard Tibeaudo as the landlord. The Rev. M Comerford wrote up a visit to the site in 1883 in his ‘Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin’ and also described the church as being in ruins.
In total 111 inscribed and uninscribed grave memorials from Portnahinch graveyard have been independently uploaded by Maragret to the Historic Graves website. In addition 37 of the legible inscriptions have been added which makes them searchable and findable online. The graveyard contains 18th to 20th century headstones, celtic-style crosses and recumbent slabs which are all mainly in good condition. The earliest grave memorial recorded in the graveyard dates to 1714 and the newest to 1953.
We have been thrilled watching the survey and self publication of the grave memorials in Portnahinch graveyard and see it as a real milestone in our project. Working with Margaret has helped us to refine our approach to graveyard recording. In particular it has helped us shape our survey workflow and refined the database in-put forms on the website. A number of changes have been implemented due to our interaction with Margaret and further changes are in train which should simplify the process for future surveyors and recorders, so watch this space and thank you Margaret.
PS Margaret is also hoping to record some audio of her local community and we look forward to seeing some Portnahinch graveyard stories been added to the Portnahinch page on the Historic Graves website in the not too distant future.