25th February 2014
by Elaine Murphy
A record 20,000 grave memorial records from 127 historic graveyards have been digitally submitted this week to Cork County Library by the Historic Graves project, funded by Cork LEADER organisations including South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD), West Cork Development Partnership, IRD Duhallow and Ballyhoura Development Ltd.
The project provided training by archaeologists from Eachtra Archaeological Projects to more than 420 community volunteers in the recording of historic graveyards over the past two years, enabling volunteers to photograph and record 20,000 headstone epitaphs all over the county.
As the largest county in Ireland, it is perhaps not surprising that there were some differences in the types of religious iconography found carved on the gravestones. In North and West Cork there are clear differences between Catholic and Protestant gravestones while in East Cork overtly Catholic imagery is harder to find.
“The survey has demonstrated that county Cork has a remarkable preservation of historic gravestones – not just individually important headstones but complete assemblages of grave memorials from the 18th and 19th centuries. Graveyards such as Killeagh, Castlemagner, Charleville, Knockavilla contain internationally important gravestone collections”, said Ryan Howard, CEO, SECAD.
Speaking about the project, John Tierney, Eachtra Archaeological Projects said “We expect historic trails and e-books to develop in the coming months using the data already recorded. Trained groups are also being encouraged to continue the detective work of community genealogy, answering the queries from abroad and guiding tourists as they visit parishes. People from around Ireland and from diaspora communities abroad can use this online database to trace their forebears,”
Following the completion of training, community volunteers continued to record information from local graveyards and uploaded the results to the historic graves website. The website, which was built and is maintained by Eachtra Archaeological Projects, has the full results of this collaborative project online at www.historicgraves.ie.
The project is an ongoing collaboration between archaeologists from Eachtra Archaeological Projects and many community groups, funded by the LEADER Development companies and supported by Cork County Council. The event was presided over by County Mayor, Noel O’Connor.