With a spare hour on my hands last week I parked at the front gate of St. Finbarr's cemetery and strolled around as the morning sun painted the place in an occasional golden light. Turning right, inside the gate I took the high road to find a particular headstone, carved by a particular man, for a very particular man and once I found that stone I strolled further afield.
Having recorded in St. Finbarr's with three different groups over the last 3 years I thought I had a fair idea of the geography of the place. It seemed to me that the older burials were centred around the two mortuary chapels (one Catholic and the other Protestant) and that the 19th century headstones would be located in this zone -as indeed they are but there are outlying pockets of older headstones to the west and some of these are of international significance.
I will post some of thephotographs I took durng that stroll to give some sense of the place and recommend that any visitors to Cork with a spare hour on their hands call out to St. Finbarr's for a visit.
The Harvey tomb is one of the early, high status, grave monuments west of the chapels. It is beautifully cut of excellent materials. The depictions of Christ and Our Lady are high quality and now when I look at these statues I try to see are they directly based on living models or are they idealised images. The iron cross with the stern Christ is very unusual. I include Denis Sprigg's memorial because I walked past his place of death every day for much of my teenage years - we didn't know anything about his life and that era seemed like the ancient past to us in the 1980s. Finally I knew Mr Oliver Sexton when he was alive and he was a lovely man - we spent a few hours together one night and he regaled me with stories of travelling between London and Cork - rearing a family in the 60s and 70s and so much of what he said then resonates with me today - his headstone is the work of Tom Little - a Cork-based stone carver whose work I admire (http://www.tomlittlestonecarving.com/).