The Story of Adamstown Graveyard, Co. Limerick

Statue in corner of Adamstown graveyard

This graveyard is in the townland of Adamstown, in the parish of Athneasy and in the barony of Smallcounty. The townland lies northeast of the town of Kilmallock. It is north west of the village of Elton and the R515 and west of the L1508. The village of Bulgaden and the L1413 lie to the west. It can be approached by taking the R515 from Kilmallock and turning north at Elton onto the L1508.  
The townland of Gormanstown lies to the north-west and the townland of Stephanstown lies to the south-east. The Morning Star River flows through the eastern end of the townland and marks the townland boundary with Newtown.
Adamstown translates Baile Adaim in Irish. Where does the name Adam originate? Is this a surname or a first name?
There is a reference to the townland having been named Ballyhyward in 1586, (, but no reference to when it began to be known as Adamstown.
The graveyard is rectangular in shape and measures 46m N-S x 29m E-W and is enclosed by a post 1700 stone wall. It is entered via a low double iron gate and a stone stile to the right. Very little structural evidence remains of the medieval church. Only part of the north gable and part of one side wall can be seen.
A total of 15 memorials were recorded during the Historic graves survey in 2022. Surnames included O’Brien, Kenny, McCarthy, Fitzgerald, Laffen, Frawley and Hayes.
The earliest recorded date of burial on a memorial is 1765 and commemorates Catherine Laffen, (memorial no. 009). Another late 18th century is the headstone marking the burial place of Andrew Kenny, (memorial no.005). It dates to 1771.
Very early 19th century headstones are memorial no’s 0011 and 0015; Denis O’Brien, 1808 and Michael Laffen, 1807, respectively.
Interesting Facts
Aerial photographs examined during the gas pipeline development in 1984 detected a cluster of four possible barrows, (circular burial mounds)  southeast of the graveyard and close to the northern banks of the Morningstar River in the neighbouring townland of Newtown. 
18th Century Memorials in Adamstown Graveyard
0005 Andrew Kenny 1771
0009 Catherine Laffen 1765
This post was researched and written as part of a grassroots heritage tourism project ( in collaboration with Ballyhoura Development CLG (, Cork Co. Council ( and Limerick Co. Council ( The stories were initially gathered during a community survey of the graveyard. They form part of the Historic Graves Project Destination for Ballyhoura (