Stories

This is one of the most moving headstones we have recorded in the last seven years. Day 2 of Gallon graveyard survey and we were in the middle of the photography. As we stood in front of this Latin cross we saw it was decorated with cockle shells and that it was dedicated to Mary Gormley who died aged 7 in 1935. Gallon is situated nearly 50 km from the coast so the family either already had cockle shells, maybe even collected by Mary herself, or went and got the shells deliberately to decorate her home -made headstone.

Mr Matt Donellan tells us the story of one of their family headstones and how the Donellan's came to Cavan, from Galway, for the building of Bailieborough church.

It is rare to meet a living organism this old. This yew tree is part of a larger stand of trees which appear to be over 1000 years old and could even be twice that age. The ancient yews were not cut out when the Clee Hills were heavily worked during the industrial revolution and this is probably associated with their great age but also their association with the holy well of Hope Bagot.

Headstone rubbings are an important part of a gravestone recording project as they allow us to make 1:1 copies of some stones. There are a number of do's and don't's involved and here Oliver outlines the main one - do not rub fragile stones. The rule of thumb we follow is to leave the headstones better than we found them.

The main guidance for doing rubbings are;

1. to pick a dry, low-wind day.

2. Never do a rubbing of a fragile stone - some of the stones in Hope Bagot were so fragile that they looked like a sneeze would cause damage.

You will find Hope Bagot graveyard in a wooded glen at the southern foot of the Clee Hills, immediately south of Cleehill village. Students from Lacon Childe secondary school recorded the historic headstones in this graveyard in 2015 and at the end of their project scripted, recorded and edited this video in the field using an ipod touch. For many of the students it was their first engagement with churchyards and the history they contain.

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