08 – Inniskenny graveyard

This pre-Norman site was first documented in 1152. Aerial photography of the graveyard shows an earlier enclosure – probably monastic in origin.  Two large 17th century family vaults can be seen. A church was in ruins here by 1615 and a new one built by the Church of Ireland in 1805. It was rebuilt in 1865 and closed in 1940. Catholics and Protestants alike are buried here, including Thomas Dooley in 1903, President Cork GAA Board, aged 84 and Private D O’Leary (3/5492), Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1920, aged 21. This graveyard has recently been cleaned up. The graves are numbered and the history of many long since gone to their eternal reward may be told. It is owned by the Church of Ireland community, and the Protestant Church that was inside the iron gates is now partly demolished and more or less nonexistent. At a personal level, I have a horrific memory of Inniskenny graveyard. My grandfather Paddy Callaghan is buried there. He was a bit of a hero to me when I was around ten years of age. Then he died, and back then the gravediggers shoveled the earth down on top of the coffin as the priest continued to say the prayers. I got hysterical at the thought of all them stones and shovels of earth banging down on top of my grandad. I can still hear the stones banging against the lid of the coffin, and that’s not far off 60 years ago. Today they place plastic grass nailed on to timber over the grave, the priest says a decade of the rosary, and when the crowd has moved away they cover in the grave – much more humane and more sensitive.