Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Ballyhale Parish Church and graveyard, county Kilkenny

According to Carrigan this is called in Irish Bolia-hael or Hale's Town or Howel's Town.  He says  that there can be no doubt that the name is derived from the Walshs, amongst whom Hale or Howel was known to have been a Christian name. Orignally it formed part of Kiltorcan.  Ballyhale's separation from Kiltorcan meant that the new townland of Ballyhale took in the church of Kiltorcan and the actual old townland of Kiltorcan was left without a church.  The ancient church of Kiltorcan was then officially situated in Ballyhale and since the Reformation Ballyhale and Kiltorcan formed part of the civil parish of Derrynahinch.  The current church at Ballyhale was rebuilt several times but sits on the same site as the old mediaeval church.  All that remains of the ancient church is a square tower at the west end which formerly served as a presbytery. Over the entrance door to this tower is a niche containing a statue of the Virgin and Child and also a shield bearing the Butler arms.  St Torcan was once the patron saint of the old church but Carrigan says that the presence of the statues of the Virgin and Child means the church was transferred to the Mother of God.  The present church was re-built in 1855 by Archdeacon O'Shea who dedicated it to St. Martin of Tours.

There are two ancients fonts, one baptismal and fluted at the front and ornamented at the top which  are now used as Holy Water fonts.  Carrigan does not say where they came from but Owen O'Kelly in Kilkenny: A History of the County. Kilkenny Archaeological Society (1969), states that they came from the old ruined church at Derrynahinch but he does not give any attribution for this statement.

Despite the early nature of the site no early dated memorial was found.  The earliest dated stone is 1809/1810 and there is nothing at all from the 17th or 18th centuries.  There are 22 memorials dating 1850 or earlier; some of these early stones are beautifully carved and at least two of these early stone stones are signed by the mason.

 Other early stones are 1815, 1817(x3), 1818, 1820, 1827, 1829, 1830(x2), 1839, 1840(x2), 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848, and 1850(x2).   Lewis's Topographical Survey of Ireland (1837) says that Ballyhale contained 69 houses and 369 inhabitants and was one mile from Knocktopher.   It also stated that the parochial RC chapel was a neat building and gave its name to the Union and district comprising the parishes of Derrynahinch, Knocktopher, Aughavillar, Kilkeasy, plus parts of Burnchuch, Jerpoint and Kells. and at that time this district also contained 4 other chapels besides a friary chapel.   The lateness of the stones at Ballyhale is interesting as we found that two burials here in Ballyhale both mention on the stones(Nos 34 & 50) that this was the first burial for the family in this grave; indicating that the traditional burial place for those families had been, up to that time, elsewhere, perhaps in one of the places mentioned above.  This also indicates just how important the traditional family burial place was to the families concerned. There are at least two old stones with inscriptions or carvings on the back of the stones (Nos 14 & 58).  The graveyard has a large grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes which is near the side gate. There are 161 memorials here.
The side gate near Our Lady's grotto; the top of the gate has a high polish to it from the number of hands that have slid across it to open and shut the gate.

This has been initialled by the blacksmith that made it but we have not yet identified who he was.

Stone at the back of No 101. Front of the stone is also dedicated to John O'Shea of Ballyhale

The statue of Our Lady and Child high above the entrance door to the tower and now obscured by greenery. The Butler Coat of Arms can be seen below.,

The wonderful iron work on the main entrance gates to the graveyard.  The Blacksmith who made the gates is not identified .

Not found on a memorial in this graveyard is James Flanagan who died at Ballyhale 14th April 1859 and was buried there on the 16th April 1859 but he lies in an unmarked grave.  Why is he important?  The small disused sandstone quarry at Kiltorcan is famous for its giant fossil ferns and fossilised primitive plants; in fact Kiltorcan is one of the classic sites for Irish Geology.  James Flanagan was the man who discovered these in 1851 when mapping Kilkenny for the Geological Survey of Ireland. The following tribute was found to him in The Athenaeum No 1643 April 23rd 1859:   The Geological Survey of Ireland has lost a humble but zealous and useful follower in the person of James Flanagan who died on 14th April at Ballyhale, county Kilkenny.  He was long attached to the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, particularly the Geological branch of it under the present General Portlock, and acted as fossil collector to the Geological Survey from the time when it was made a separate department.....down to the present day. He was the discoverer of the Oldhamia of the Cambrian rocks (so called as Flanagan named this new find in honour of Professor Oldham, then local Director of the Survey), of the Kiltorcan fossils in the Upper part of the Old Red Sandstone and many other fossils rare and new to science.  
A portrait of James Flanagan with the tools of his trade.  This was drawn on 9th September 1856 by George Victor du Noyer (1817-1869), a geologist, antiquary and artist.  The portrait was sketched at Ferriter's Cove, county Kerry. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the British Geological Survey.

According to North From the Hook by Gordon L Herries Davies, Geological Survey of Ireland 1995, James Flanagan probably started work with the GSI in 1845 having previously worked on the Ordnance Survey Triangulation of Ireland.  Both General Portlock and Sir Henry James (Director of the GSI) had high opinions of Flanagan's abilities. He was the senior of the fossil collectors and was  "an honest, industrious and accurate observer - a very useful fellow and a capital collector".    To quote again from the above book "A certain pathos surrounds Flanagan who died as it were on active service. During the summer of 1858 he was taken ill whilst collecting at the famous Kiltorcan site.  He was then lodging at Ballyhale with one Richard Ruith and was tended by Bridget Ruith, the daughter of the house.  He expired at 5am on the 14th April 1859. The then local Director of the GSI Joseph Beete Jukes came down to see his long term employee but arrived too late on the same day.  Jukes stayed in Ballyhale to attend the funeral on the 16th April which was in the nearby Catholic burial ground.  He then went straight to Ruith's house and in the presence of an RIC sergeant went through Flanagan's effects; he had very little, some letters and papers, a few books, a pistol and a gold watch and chain of very inferior workmanship and quality".  According to the records James Flanagan, was paid 5/- per day.
Index of names appearing on the memorials
Ade 74
Aylward 23,24,28,33
Baker 22, 153
Barron 19
Barry 34
Beck 48
Bookle 146
Breen 56
Brennan 61, 81
Brett 127
Brophy 25, 103, 120
Butler 86, 109
Burke 99
Byrne 8, 79, 102
Cahill 80
Callaghan 112
Campion 136
Carr 26
Carroll 34,51,53,55
Cass 125
Cassin 22
Cleary 79
Coady 88, 147
Cody 20
Collins 121, 143, 144
Comerford 143
Conway 121
Corcoran 14, 66, 90, 105
Costelloe 3, 133
Crowley 54
Dalton 96, 151
Daly 2
Darmody 33
Davis 84, 134
Delany 37
Delaney 70, 147
Dempsey 64, 84
Doody 113
Doyle 82
Drea 66
Dreay 98
Drennan 92
Duggan 74, 125, 152
Dwyer 123
Egan 85
Everit 15
Fennelly 104, 115, 126
Fitzgerald 17
Fitzpatrick 32, 39, 76, 150
Flanagan (no number as no memorial)
Fleming 29, 96
Foley 7
Forin 59
Fowler 12
Garland 158
Gaule 47, 60
Gleeson 4
Gorey 30
Grace 127
Griffin 63
Hanrahan 120
Hawe 18, 96
Hayes 12, 13, 93
Heaslip 38
Heffernan 65
Henneberry 71
Hennebry 148
Hession 113
Hickey 1
Hoban 49
Holden 5, 57, 120, 154
Holahan 35
Hoyne 59, 85, 93, 126
Keeffe 33, 95
Kelly 11, 45
Keneally 141
Kenny 21, 86
Keran 40
Kerins 157
Kearns 41, 158
Kiely 43, 72
Kirwan 156
Laherty 139
Lanigan 46
Long 11,14, 23, 25, 27, 105, 121, 125, 145
Mackey 137
McBride  4
McCarthy 26
McDonagh 139
McDonald 107
McGrath 87
McStay 16
Maher 125
Mason 161
Meighan 100
Menton 106
Moloney 9
Morrissey 119
Moynihan 106
Mulhall 71
Murphy 20, 22, 29, 34, 45, 50, 52, 53, 54, 75, 89, 92, 120, 128
O'Brien 112, 155
O'Connor 44
O'Donnell 79
O'Donoghue 158
O'Farrell 151
O feargail 77
O'Keeffe 36, 38, 42, 57, 71, 73, 96, 136, 138
O'Neill 9, 30, 52, 85, 149, 156
O'Shea 46, 88, 100, 101, 125
O'Sullivan 79, 130, 142
Pendergast 135
Phelan 11, 135, 159
Power 28, 31, 108
Prendergast 93
Purcil 15
Quinlan 27
Quinn 58, 107
Raftice 36, 37
Reade 17
Reid 148
Ring 84
Roche 97
Ryan 116, 131
Sarsfield 2
Shefflin 10
Tierney 25
Tobin 94
Walsh 5, 6, 29, 36, 37, 47, 48, 55, 57, 58 ,61, 83, 85, 91, 95, 98, 140, 145, 152
Walshe 114
Wemys 118
Whelan 110, 111
White 129, 131
Woods 124

List of places appearing on the memorials
Ball..... 99
Ballina 54
Ballinaboola 145
Ballybray 23, 105, 107
Ballyhale 3,4,5,8,10,12,28,29,30,32,34,35,43,46,51,52,53,57,61,67,71,75,76,81,82,83,87,93,100, 101,102,103,104,106,111,114,120,121,125,127,128,130,138,140,141,142,152,153,156
Ballyvatteen 47
Bawnskeha 19
Bawnskehy 33
Cappaghhayden 46,
Carrigeen 85
Cashgannon 46
Castlebanny 7,63,64,115,121,123,126
Castle Banny 48
Castlecolumb 147
Chicago 1,144
Clodagh 16
Coolmeen 11,41,80,111,130,133,137,145,159
Coolmine 40
Coolmore 6, 39
Coppanagh 23, 24
Cotterstown 110
Crowbally 94
Danganmore 90
Deansrath 89
Derrynahinch 29,33,48,91, 98
Dublin 38, 102, 110
Dunkitt 134
England 110
Floodhall 45, 113
Garnaman 17
Gorrue 92
Graiguenamanagh 24
Gyles Quay 29
Haggard 25
Hugginstown 79
Jerpoint Abbey 125
Jerpoint Church 121
Kells 17,58, 96, 100
Kilcurl 14, 139, 151
Kilfera 149
Kilkeasy 109
Killaloe 46
Killarney 112
Kilmacow 134
Kilmoganny 26
Kiltorcan 18, 38, 43, 50, 66, 72, 118, 144, 148, 161
Kiltorkan 36
Kiltorken 37
Kiltorkin 135
Knockdrinna 57
Knocktopher 39, 46,11,119,147
Knockwilliam 9,73,88,95,97,105,141,143
Knockwilliam House 46
London 105
Lower Haggard 105
Monarue 15,42
Moonarue 19
Mooncoin 158
Mullinavat 94, 136
New Church 26
New Orleans 50
New York 36, 85
Nicholastown 158
Oakwood 149
Ossory 46
Poorshill 110
Raialugh 20
St Mary's Kilkenny 46
Sheepstown 13,131
Sheestown 130, 131
Shortlestown 108
Stonecarthy 108
Station House 156
Templemore 110
The Rower 36,41
Thomastown 48,112,121
Thomastown Rd 128
Tipperary 110
Tullow 106
USA 1,110
Waterford 56

List of occupations mentioned on the memorials
Archdeacon 46
Bishop 46
Canon 76
Monseignor (Mgr) 61
National Teacher 100,142
Nun 151
Parish Priest 35,75,76,77 (in Irish), 81, 82, 83
Rev. 36, 41, 75,76,81,82,83
Solicitor 54
SRN (State Registered Nurse)
Teacher 142

List of Masons who have signed the memorials (as their names appear on the stones)
Byrne Memorials,New Ross 147
Byrne, New Ross 27
R.Colles, Kilkenny 46
Collins, Wat (Waterford) 108
Dwyer, Kilkenny 142
Gargan 28,71,73,114,139
Gargan Bros, Kilkenny 52, 83
Gargan Kilkenny 41, 82, 85, 159
Gargan, Walkin St, Kilkenny 119
M. Gargan & Brot, Kilkenny 90
Keeffe, Kilkenny 49
P.K.Malone sculpt, Kilkenny 86
Molloy 109, Molloy, Callan 1,5,6,23,26,30,38,42,44,60,64,81,94,97,102, 126, 128, 130, 133, 156,161
Molloy, Callan and Tullaroan 8, 76 (and probably 75)
Molloy, Kilkenny 144
Mullan 115
Mullan, Kilkenny 39,72,110,111,138,148,161
O’Conċubair darṁaġ. Laois. 77
O'Donnell, Philip St, Watd (Waterford), 125
O'Keeffe 132
R.O'Keeffe 6,7
R.O'Keeffe of Kilkenny 31
R.O'Keeffe, Waterford 32, 92
R.O'Keeffe, Lady Lane, Wat (Waterford) 91
O'Shea, Callan 36

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Sheepstown Graveyard, Parish of Aghavillar, county Kilkenny

This is a small walled graveyard surrounding an old Celtic church in total ruins.
 You will see the sign for the graveyard on the left after leaving Knocktopher village in the direction of Hugginstown , and crossing over a roundabout that will take you onto the new motorway to Cork.  According to Carrigan, the date of the ruin is uncertain but it supposed to be earlier than the ruined church at Kilkeasy and Kilkeasy dates to before the Norman invasion of 1172.  The patron saint of  the church at Sheepstown is St Muicin of Maiglin, a Bishop, whose festival used to be celebrated here on the 4th March.  Before the Reformation Sheepstown church belonged to the Priory of Kells.  Sheepstown Castle was occupied here by the Rothe family in the 17th century and subsequently by the Catholic Shees until about 1770.  The Castle was later demolished by a subsequent owner named Kelly.   The burial place of the Catholic Shee family is not here at Sheepstown but at nearby Derrynahinch  (see our posting on 23rd Feb 2016 of Derrynahinch Graveyard, Parish of Ballyhale  for details of the Shee internments).

This very small graveyard is beautifully maintained.  Family lore of the Barron family who own the farm and land where the church is situated and whose family has been here from the 19th century states quite invincibly that the small field from the road to the old graveyard was used as a famine graveyard in the 1840s during the Great Famine.  For this reason this piece of land has never been ploughed, nor cattle allowed to churn up the soil.  
 A beautifully written book by the BBC War Correspondent, Fergal Keane, called Wounds (William Collins 2017), describes how in his native Kerry, at Teampallin Ban on the edge of Listowel, under whose thick summer grass lay the bones of the Famine dead, he was told by his father that this was hungry grass.  He was told  "walk on the graves and you would always be hungry".   Here in Sheepstown is a related family tradition and a continued respect for the unnamed Famine dead.  Sadly they are always with us.

There are only 7 memorials here. These are:-
1. Large Celtic Cross decorated with bunches of grapes and with crown of thorns in the centre..  Erected by Mary Barron, Sheepstown in loving memory of her husband John Barron 10th January 1954, Marian Year, aged 60 years.  His brother Walter died 2nd Feb 1973 aged 73. The above Mary Barron died 26th Oct 1985 aged 92. RIP.
2. This is a large plot.  In Memory of Bob and Lizzie Boyle, Maggie Hughes, Willie and Nick Kinahan. And their parents. Eileen Kinahan nee Fitzgerald wife of the above Willie died 18th Feb 2007 aged 85 yrs.  RIP.
3. In loving memory of William Voss born 19th Jan 1920, died 11th April 1980.  His brother Michael born 9th February 1916 died 30th Dec 1984.  Michael's son Patrick Joseph born 7th July 1965 died 12th November 1985. Michael's wife Nora born 23rd April 1935 died 27th June 1999. RIP. VOSS.
4.This is an upright headstone in a kerbed plot.  In loving memory of Catherine Cuddihy, Croan died 18th Nov 1948. James Cuddihy died 7th Nov 1959. Ann Cuddihy died 5th Jan 1962. Peter Cuddihy died 6th Jan 1979, James O'Shea died 31st July 1979. His wife Jospehine O'Shea nee Cuddihy died 10th May 2008.
5. Old stone with IHS and Gloria scroll.   Erected by Laurence Lee of Newmarket in memory of his father John Lee who depd this life Febry 7th 1801 aged 90 years.  Also his daughter Mary who died Decr 21st 1805 aged 18 years. Edmond Lee died Jan 24th 1896 aged 86 years.  His wife Ellen Lee nee Funcheon died April 22nd 1911 aged 88 years. Also their son John Lee who died March 22nd 1928 aged 70 years. May their Souls Rest in Peace Amen
6. God be merciful to the Soul of Bridget Purcell alias Dullahanty who depd this life the 25th April 1796 aged 32 years.  Also her father Jno Dullahanty who departed this life in the year 1790 aged 64 years.  Erected by her husband Jno Purcell of Jurpoynt.
7.Upright stone.  Erected by Richard Leahy of Sheepstown in memory of his father James Leahy died 5th Decr 1852 aged 72 years. His mother Mary Leahy died 17th June 1851 aged 65 years. Requiescant in Pace Amen.
The almost illegible Leahy stone but note the elegant and beautiful carved top with scrolls This would have been an expensive stone in its day. 

Names recorded on the memorials
Barron 1
Boyle 2
Cuddihy 4
Dullahanty 6
Funcheon 5
Hughes 2
Kinahan 2
Leahy 7
Lee 5
O'Shea 4
Purcell 6
Voss 3

Places recorded on the memorials
Croan 4
Jurpoynt 6
Newmarket 5
Sheepstown 1,7.
An interested observer!

Friday, 21 September 2018

St Mary's Church and Graveyard, Thomastown, county Kilkenny

As part of the Kilkenny Heritage Week events held in August 2018 we were honoured to be invited to give a guided tour of the memorials in the ancient graveyard and former church at St Mary's, Thomastown.  There has been a church on this site from 13th century but the present building dates from only 1818, so this was the 200th anniversary of its erection. The church building is now a private residence and we thank the owners for their generous hospitality, both to us and to the people who, despite the rain, turned out for the tour.  Thank you!  It was great to see you all including two ladies from Canada, Reverley and her daughter Camryn,  who were on a search for the burial places of their Kilkenny ancestors.

This is a graveyard with both Catholic and Protestant burials.  There are 225 memorials in all which includes 30 markers which record a burial place but without the person being identified.  The site is very old and has 13 ledger slabs or parts of ledger slabs.  There are five memorials dating from the 17th century and 32 from the 18th century.  There are 31 memorials dating from between 1800-1850. 
A display of some of Bernie's rubbings of 17th century memorials

And the dog came too!

Viewing some of Bernie's  rubbings of 17th century memorials carved with symbols of the Passion

One of our favourite stones erected by Captain Christopher O'Connor of Philadelphia in memory of his parents.
View of some of the memorials now erected in the entrance hall of the former church
The next day, we were happy to help Reverly and Camryn find some of their Raftice family headstones in Derrynahinch, Knocktopher and Ballyhale; they also got a quick tour of the Carrickshock Memorial as their people had been involved in  the battle of Carrickshock and the Tithe War of 1831.  They got quite a baptism of fire into the basic fieldwork we do, crossing fields of cows, dealing with lethal stinging nettles and thistles and also the irritating biting ants......but we all had fun and we were sorry to see them go on their way back to Dublin to catch their flight to Canada.  Come back soon!  We have actually had a really busy summer and have accumulated quite a bit of interesting material.  We will start posting some of these graveyards soon.  

We also wish to thank people for their kind comments about our article on Kilkenny Graveyards and tombstones which had just appeared in Irish Roots, 2018 Third Quarter  (issue No 107).   Thank you very much!