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.
There are some wonderful 18th century ledger slabs in the graveyard. However there is not too much in the way of recorded history. The earliest reference seems to be the primary valuation of 1850 which lists Richard Tibeaudo as the landlord. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of the area shows the original Portnahinch House and its proximity to the graveyard and the river Barrow. It is recorded that a Sheela na Gig which was located at the nearby Tinakill castle was taken from the ruined church at Portnahinch. The road which passes very close to the eastern gable end of the church was redirected when the bridge across the barrow was constructed. The location of the bridge was always a fording point across the river however the earlier road may have respected the original eastern graveyard boundary. The present road probably bisects the graveyard and indeed the eastern boundary wall is of different construction to the rest.