Friday, 6 May 2016

Dungarvan Graveyard, Parish of Gowran, county Kilkenny. Part 1. The Old Graveyard.

This graveyard was in a very unkempt condition and proved quite a challenge to record with accuracy, which is what we aim to do.

 Many tombstones or memorials were completely overgrown by trees, brambles and briars; they were not easy to access and getting access to one stone, (no 106 on our list), in the end proved impossible due to the density of the trees and other bushes around it, although it appeared to be upright and would probably be readable if only one could get at it.

At least 10 headstones had fallen facedown and/or are smashed; there are a further 9 headstones very broken and damaged with only a few tantalising words visible.   There is one collapse altar tomb in need of attention (no 78 on our list).

There are at least 26 stones with dates before 1800 including a 1581 memorial by the Kilkenny mason, Walter Keren, which is in a very sad condition. Of the other two earlier stones one dates from 1740 (no 40) and another one from 1760 (no 77).  There are also 2 visible headstones with beautifully carved crucifixion scenes and passion symbols (no 3 dating from 1791 and no 15 dating from 1806).    There are 37 headstones with dates ranging from 1800-1840.

 There appear to be at least 6 broken medieval ledger slabs, one of which is being used as a top step down into the lower and modern graveyard.   Carrigan (History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, 1905) described these as "about half a dozen coffin-shaped uninscribed slabs, all with incised crosses, and some with carvings in relief of human heads".   It is a relief that after more than 110 years we can still agree on the number of ledger slabs!

There is one beautiful, but primitively carved headstone, with the crucifixion scene which unusually includes two roman soldiers (no 3 - this is a Sherman stone and dates from 1791).  In the photo below you can make out one of the soldiers standing at the side of Christ crucified - he is brandishing a sword!

 No 15, dating from 1806, has fantastic iconography with very ornate passion symbols including a hammer and pincers; this stone belongs to the Nary family of Bramblestown.  You can just make out the pincers in the photo below.

 No 49 erected by Mylan of Bramblestown in 1801 has a wonderful carving on it of a devil with three horns and a snake curled up along the bottom of the crucifix also carved on the stone; strangely this stone faces west whilst most stones in the graveyard face east.   Priests are usually buried facing west so that on the day of the Resurrection they can rise and face their deceased congregation who are all buried facing east; however this Mylan stone does not commemorate a priest but has been erected by Edward Mylan for his wife Mary.  It was difficult to photograph due to its position, hidden in trees, but we hope to do a rubbing of this stone.

We surveyed the Old Graveyard in May and August 2014.   We recorded 143 memorials or grave markers.   We surveyed the New Graveyard for completeness in August 2014; at that time we recorded 109 memorials in the newer section, plus 21 stained glass windows in the new Catholic church and sacristy.  It is interesting to view the continuity of local names which appear in both the Old and New graveyard; they are obviously the same families and these old and newer memorials would allow serious genealogy to be done using the information from them.    The New graveyard seems to have come into use around about the late 1930s.  We intend to post this soon.

 The ancient Catholic parish church of Dungarvan was dedicated to St David.  It was in a ruinous state and taken down in 1811 to make way for a new Protestant church which itself is now a ruin.  It has proved impossible to gain access to the interior of the ruined church to check for any wall memorials which might still be there. Trees and bushes grow inside it in profusion and at the locked iron gate into the ruined church pigeon/rook droppings are about 6-8 foot high inside what would have once been the entrance lobby.  There is a stone above the door of the church which reads:- "Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace and Goodwill Towards Men".   There is also an inscribed stone on the bell tower which is very high and difficult to read as the stone is corroded but records (we think) the consecration of the church and is signed with the name of The Revd Peter Roe, Vicar.  The Reverend Peter Roe was installed as Vicar of Dungarvan church on 28th December 1808 and resigned from this appointment in 1826.   He was also Vicar of Odagh, and Rector and vicar of Coolerahenn.  He was born in Gorey, Wexford in 1778 and died in 1841  He married in 1806,  Mary daughter of Arthur Gore of Kilkenny and had issue.    I wonder what he would think of his church now if he were able to return to see it...............

The most interesting, and sadly neglected, memorial is that of Donald mcPierce Archedekin, otherwise McOdo, or Cody of Cloghala.  It is broken and battered and sunk very deeply into the ground. It once stood within the old Catholic church along the south wall and is still in its original position but now exposed to all the elements.

 When the new Protestant church was build in 1811, this very old and venerable memorial, lay outside the protection of the new building.  It is showing signs of its age.  It is now so sunken in the soil that it is almost impossible to read the side panels which had symbols of the passion and the inscription "par me Walter Keren, mason 158 (1)".  As you can see from the photo above some sections of the memorial have been broken off.   Below is a picture of part of one of the sunken side panels showing very ornate decoration; this was a very expensive memorial in its time.

 There are Catholic and Protestant memorials in this graveyard.  We have a detailed map for the old graveyard and can check things out for you if you think you have relations buried here.  This graveyard has never been surveyed in detail before.

Index of names appearing on memorials in the old graveyard

Archer, Archdekin, Baron, Blanchville, Brenan, Brennan, Bryan, Bulger, Butler, Byrn,  Byrne, Cain, Cody, Connell, Corbet, Corbett, Corbit, Costigan, Crawford, Croke, Culletomn, Delaney, Denissin, Dooley, Doolin, Doran, Dowlan. Drea, Dullard, Dunphy, Farrell, Fitzgerald, Fleming, Fowler, Gibbons, Glendon, Glindon, Gorman, Greene, Hayden, Henesy, Hennessy, Jens, Kearin, Kene, Keefe, Keeffe, Kirwan, Kirwin, Lambert, Lawless, Lawliss, Leary,  Lesser, Lyster, Magrath, Maddock, Maher, Mahr, McGrath, Meany, Millott, Moylan, Muldowney, Murphy, Mylan, Naddy, Nary, O'Bryan,  LP (initials only), Power, Quigley, Quinn. Rice, Roach, Roche, Roe, Ryan, Seigne, Shea, Shearman, Shee, Shortil, Tobin, Walsh, Whelan.

Index of places appearing on the memorials

Birmingham, Bishopslough, Blanchevilletown, Bohergaddy, Bonnetstown, Bramblestown, Callan, Castlegarden, Cellarstown,  Clohala, Clohilla, Coolatober, Crowbally, Dunbell, D(ungarvan), Dungarvan, Glasgow, Gowran, Graigue, Kilbricken, Kilbride cemetery, Kilbline, Kilmanahan,  Kilree, Lodge Hill cemetery, Moonteen, Moonteenmore, Neigham, Park, Raheenroche, Rathkyle, Scart, South Australia, Sugarstown, Towrhead, Tullow, Upper Grange, Wallslough, Wollengrange.

Index of masons who have signed memorials

Brennan, Royal Oak (nos 47,48,131)
Gargan Bros, Kilkenny (no 7)
Keren, Walter (no 58 and dated 1581)
Mullan, Kilkenny (no 36)


  1. Hi Mary and or Bernie,
    I have Kilkenny ancestors by name of Lawless. Yesterday I discovered in Irish Newspaper Archive, - Kilkenny People - the death of John Lawless 9th May 1941. Lengthy write up and states he was buried Dungarven Cemetery and having found your blog on Dungarven discovered the name Lawless in Old Cemetery but not in new one. Most of the Lawless family are at Foulkstown Cemetery however John who died 1941 is Dungarven. His father James who was a Tailor of note, died 1922 and his father Edmund Lawless [sometimes Edward] also a Tailor, died I believe 1874 or thereabouts at I understand 71 years and not on headstones in Foulkstown. I am wondering if you could check all Lawless names buried there for me please? Maybe being in Old Cemetery, John was buried witgh relatives who had been there quite some time. If there is a Lawless headstone says something along lines of 'dearly departed wife and or mother Julia, son/brother Edward and daughters/sisters Margaret and Mary Ellen' then this would be my family. These folk just mentioned are all at Foulkstown. I haved a reasonable coverage of my Kilkenny Lawless folk other than these burials. Any help would be much appreciated
    Jan, Victoria, Australia

  2. Hello Jan, We have checked the records we have for the Old cemetery at Dungarvan. There are 4 headstones but all of an early date. Probably too early for you but just in case they are useful here they are:- No 40. Decoration of IHS with cross and hourglass symbols on each side: Here lieth the body of John Lawless and Catherine his wife. He died the 14th of October 1752 aged 88 years with many of their children and grandchildren. No 41. (In tree) Erected by Sylvester Lawliss(sic) of Wallslough in memory of his father John Lawliss who departed this life on the 20th of May 1814 aged 79 years. Also his son Michl (Michael) Lawliss who departed this life on the 9th of February 1814 aged 22 years. No 42. (in line with end of church - a cross engulfed by a tree) Here lies the body of Elizabeth Croke wife of Martin Lawless who died 20th June 1775 aged 57 yrs. And also his son Laurs (Laurence) Lawless aged 19 yrs.
    No 43. This is a stone marker, uncut boulder, and no inscription. May be to a member of the Lawless family as so near the above 3 headstones. No 50. Here lies the body of Catherine Murphy who departed this life Jan 11th 1801 aged 50 years. Also Anstice Lawless who departed this life July 7th 1801 aged 45 yrs. Erected by Dines (Denis) Murphy.
    No Foulkstown appears in either index of places appearing on the headstone for the Old and the New graveyards. Both graveyards will have burials but no headstones - in the case of the old graveyards simple uncut stones are used as markers. In the new graveyards there are spaces in between the existing headstones where burials have most probably occurred. Sometimes a family will wait until the grave is full before erecting a headstone/memorial.
    The Dungarvan Burial Ground Register, originally kept by the Kilkenny Board of Health (civil) but now archived with the Kilkenny County Archives, John St. Sadly this only starts with a burial in September 1942 - just missing your date by a year. This particular record of burials stops in 1972 but there are no Lawless listed at all for Dungarvan Burial Ground. Quite a few of the people listed in the Burial Register are not recorded on headstones.
    We have also checked Gowran RC graveyard as it is so near to Dungarvan and more modern but no Lawless is listed. This more modern graveyard was not transcribed by us. We have transcribed the older graveyard around St Mary's in Gowran which we have not yet posted- there is one stone of possible interest No 108. Erected by Patrick Lawless of Gowran in memory of his beloved wife Bridget Lawless who died Febry 4th 1886 aged 70 years. Sadly we do not have any Burial Registers for these last two graveyards in Gowran. They are not in the Archives anyway, if they ever existed. There are no memorials at St Mary's Gowran with Foulkstown as a place of residence.
    Sorry not to have found these people for you....
    Mary and Bernie

  3. Hi Mary and Bernie,
    Just wrote a lengthy reply and lost it, will try again. Thank-you for trying. I don't know of any of the names you mention from dark ages, will keep them in mind, however haven't got beyond Edmund Lawless possibly born 1803 [from age at death in 1874]. Haven't found his grave yet either. His son James who died 1922 is not on headstone of grave of his wife Julia and children Margaret, Mary Ellen and Edward in Foulkstown Cemetery. I have just been informed this morning by a G/Grandson who lives Ireland he believes James Lawless was buried with his first wife Johanna [nee Lawless] who died 1887 but doesn't know where.
    I got excited for a minute or two about Bridget wife of Patrick who placed memorial when his wife died 1886 until I realised Patrick himself died 1879 and when died itg states 'married'.
    The very comprehensive write up in newspaper 'Kilkenny People' re John Lawless dying 9th May 1941, lists cause of death, run down on his life, names all mourners, lists names of who sent cards and letters of condolence and definitely states funeral to Dungarven. Looks like this will remain the enigma of the Lawless graves.
    I appreciate your help and great site

  4. Hi Mary and Bernie.
    I am Jack Whelan and now live in Sydney, Australia. My family came from Dungarvan, and lived at 'The Grove' which is the house adjacent to the old Graveyard. I have visited the church myself back in 2007, and found two memorials with several family inscriptions - including Thomas Whelan d.1904, Clement Whelan d.1912, Charles Whelan d.1913, Anne Crawford d. 1900, James Leahy, Stephen Whelan d. 1877, Dulcibella Watts d 1871, Mary Lambert d. 1913 aged 99 years! I have many photos of these memorials. But I am also interested if you have records or more Whelans either in the old or new graveyards. Also any other information you may have of the house known as 'The Grove'. And is there any source of church records for that long ago? I know that Thomas, Clement, Charles, Dulcie, Elizabeth, Anne, Mary, Kathleen, Susan, Jane were 10 siblings all living in the small house 'The Grove'. Thomas is my Great Grandfather. His wife, Elizabeth Jane Ashe was one of nine siblings, and her mother was Sarah Jane Watts (Thomas' mother was Dulcibella Watts, so I am interested to know if Sarah Jane and Dulcibella were sisters?) I am guessing that the Watts came from another village, because I don't think you listed any Watts in the Dungarvan church graveyard... Anyway, let me know if you have any more information - and I can send photos if required. Thanks a million, Jack Whelan.

  5. Index of names appearing on memorials in the old graveyard.
    The above is where I hope my grandfather is buired with his child who only lived a few hours. You have logged the Roche on your list. My Grandfather's name was Gerald Roche, he died 22.9.1922 at the age of 48years. He lived in Gowran, Jenkinstown.
    I would be be very grateful if could give me any information you have that might be written on the head stone. We have been looking for a few years now hoping to find his grave.
    Thank you in advance.Margaret Bartley. my emails is if you anything.

  6. Hello Margaret thank you for contacting us and strangely I think you may have met Mary and myself at St Mary's Church Gowran...some time back you were travelling with your Mam.
    The details you are enquiring about her at the old graveyard at Dungarvan are not unfortunately the one you are looking for.
    The details of these two Roche/Roach tombs are a follows
    Stone 10
    Erected by David Roach of Scart in memory of his son James Roache who departed this life October 25th 1805 aged 25 years.
    Stone 28
    Erected by James Roach, John Roach, and patrick Roach in memory of their father William Roach departed January 5th 1792 aged 52 yrs..their mother Hanora Roach who departed August 24th 1806 aged 60 yrs. Also two of their children..David Roach departed December th 29th 1806 aged 24 yrs.
    Are you searching Gerald Roche Head Gardener at Gowran Castle Demesne and also Head Gardener at Jenkinstown, trained at Kew... Married to Mary Bridget King..
    Mary and Bernie

  7. Marcus James Murphy2 January 2018 at 23:30

    My grandfather is James Murphy, he died in the 1970's. I'd be interested to know if anyone can trace his grave and give me any further information about him.

    1. James do you think he is buried in the Gowran area come back to us with further details. Obituaries in local papers often tell us where internment took place.
      kind regards Mary and Bernie

  8. Hi, I’m doing some family history research, just wondering do you have more details about what Maher family members are buried there. Names, dates etc.

    1. Hi Brendan
      Exact wording of inscriptions
      St Marys Collegiate Church Gowran
      No 59 This stone is erected by Margaret Holahan otherwise Maher in memory of her beloved Husband Walter Holehan late of Royal Oak in the county of Carlow who depd this life 17th December 1822 aged 44 years. Lord have Mercy on his soul amen.
      No 178 John Maher died Sept 9th 1871 aged 70 years.
      Mary and Bernie

  9. i have just discovered this blog and it might help with my family grandfather james butler came to nyc about 1895.from gowran I have found his birth 1872 and marriage in nyc. his father a john butler born 1845 and married mary walsh in 1869 having numerous offspring named catherine, james, john,julia,patrick,thomas,edward and others i haven;t found. my problem is i cannot find anyone more info for john butler i know some of his chrildren stayed in gowran into the 1940's.any help will be appreciated
    yours truly
    ed butler

    1. Hello Ed
      Thank you for reminding us again
      I am giving you the exact details of three Butler family headstones at St Marys collegiate Church Gowran.
      Mural tablet No 2
      This is in a frame with scrolled supports
      Erected to the memory of Mrs Maria Loughnan alias Butler of Crowhill Lodge, daughter of Walter Butler of Kilmagar Esq., died 17th of October 1843 aged 32 years. May her soul rest in Peace.
      No 22 Very old stone damaged down one side
      Here lieth the body of Margaret wife of William Butler gent, and daughter of John Bradstreet who died ye third day of May 1685.
      No 101 Erected by Thomas Roche of the City of Kilkenny in memory of his father in law Mr Robert Connolly who depd this life Decbr 30th 1823 aged 55 years. Also his wife Mrs Mary Connolly alias Butler who depd January 30th 1823 aged 66 years. May his Soul Rest in Peace Amen
      These headstones are all within the confines of the old ruined Church

    2. Bernie,
      thanks for your interest and help in my quest.I see that was St Mary,s cemetery. What i'm asking is there any other cemeteries in Gowran that might have stones for the butler family. Again I thank you very much for your help.
      Ed Butler

    3. Hi Edward again
      Yes there is a quite a big other Catholic graveyard at Gowran and there is a section that might be contemporary to your family and the dates you are searching. We promise to keep your details with us and we will spend time there with your family in mind ..keep an eye to our blog.
      Regards Mary and Bernie

    4. thanks again bernie, i really appreciate all you are doing and will wait for your info. thanks again for your effort.
      ed butler

  10. Hi Edward
    Thank you for visiting our blog, we do have St Marys Gowran and Dungargarvan old and new Graveyards mapped and recorded.
    We are out in small graveyards recording at the moment with the last of the summer weather... we will be back to you shortly on this
    Kind regards
    Mary and Bernie

    1. thank you very much. i will have to wait

    2. Mary & Bernie,
      I Ed Butler had wrote to you about a year ago and asked for info on the butlers of gowran especially a john born 1845. you had wrote that you were out of graveyard recordings and i have waited till i went to your site and seen it had been updated. my question is, have you found any info on my question. i would appreciate any news that you could give me.
      thanks for the interest
      ed butler

  11. Hello Mary and Bernie, My name is Diana Zimber, and I have been trying to connect our "Gorman" ancestors here in Canada with any family in Gowran Kilkenny where our Thomas Gorman was born in 1796. My mother wrote down everything she knew in her later years . We visited Gowran in 2008 and went to the graveyard to see what we could find - but as you, only found overgrown graves.. We then went to a newer site at St. Mary's Roman Catholic church and found a relatively new gravestone in the name of Bridie Gorman of Kilkenny road Gowran late of Kilmanahan so we conclude that the earlier graves must have been in the ruins.I see you have the Gorman name on your list. Can you tell me anything about it? Is it readable? Thank you for anything you can tell me. Cheers, Diana Zimber

  12. Please notify me any time you have a comment or contact me at about the Gorman family mentioned above

  13. Hi Diana
    Thank you for visiting our blog.
    Stone no 39 in the Old Collegiate Church St Marys Gowran
    co Kilkenny
    Interred here lie the remains of the Reverd James Gorman parish Priest of Gowran depd this life May 17th in the year of Our Lord 1791 aged 47 years. May his soul Rest in Peace, Amen.
    Stone no 51
    Here lieth the remains of Mr Edward Lyons late of Gowran who departed this life 22nd May 1820 in the 46th year of his age. Also his wife Mrs Catherine Lyons alias Gorman who departed this life the 12th November 1822 in the 42nd year of her age, with four of her children.

  14. Hello Mary and Bernie,
    I am researching the Blanchfield/Blanchville family history and I was wondering if you have and information on the location of grave sites. I see you mention a Blanchville at Dungarvan. Have you come across the name at other locations? Any information would be gratefully received. Best Regards Brian Blanchfield.

  15. Hi,
    First of all fantastic work on the grave records at Dungarvan, real genealogy gold nuggets. Could you let me know anymore details on the "Gibbons" headstone alluded to in your survey. Many thanks.

  16. Hello and congratulations on an excellent resource.

    When researching family history, we discovered a link to the name Cain which I see is listed in your index of the old graveyard. The name is sometimes Kane and Kene is also listed in your index but I don't know if this is relevant.

    It would be great to know if you have any details on the Cain records, from Raheenroche I believe.
    My Great Great Grandmother was born circa. 1805 so finding connections of hers would be wonderful.


    1. Also,
      I am aware of the 2 relatively modern Hennessy headstones side by side, "Erected by Jeremiah..." and "Erected by Richard..."

      Could you perhaps outline what relates to Henesy on your index in case that spelling may be relevant?
      And indeed if there are other, older Hennessy records?