Irish Graveyard Etiquette

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Kevin J. O'Brien
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:19 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA

Irish Graveyard Etiquette

Post by Kevin J. O'Brien » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:31 pm

Irish Graveyard Etiquette

I have been spending a lot of time in the graveyards around Miltown Malbay photographing, deciphering and transcribing gravestone inscriptions on my annual holidays. I have asked a lot of questions about the graves and burials conducted in the West of Ireland. Is anyone familiar with any papers, books or reports written about the burial customs? I am referring to the older graveyards not the newer graveyards that are now found behind the churches.

Some things that I have been told is that the tradition was that the grave was dug and prepared by the neighbors of the deceased and that the neighbors knew the location of the family grave and that this was the family plot or vault for generations. When I find gravestones with the same surnames on gravestones next to each other; do you think I can expect that there is strong probability that there is a relation between the deceased families? I have used this theory and it has proven to be correct and has been documented by written records or family legend in some cases. The early gravestones with the deceased born in the 1700’s or early 1800’s are not as easily verified. Many times there are not any written records available.

Another feature that I have noticed and I have a number of examples regards the gravestone. If the stone is the same design and the epitaph is similar in the wording; did a particular family use the same stone cutter? In Killernan graveyard there are three O’Brien vertical gravestones within 20 feet of each other that are the same design and shape and surely made by the same stone cutter. Were the O’Brien’s of Killernan townland “keeping up” with the O’Brien’s of Dunsallagh and O’Brien’s Miltown Malbay. It certainly happens here in New York! Recently, I found a stone with the exact shape, size, symbols, and wording in the gable of a vault for the Sexton Family one in Killernan Graveyard and one in Kilbridget Graveyard. These are older vaults and I always suspected that the two families were related. The families are from different townlands a couple of miles apart. There are no written records for this early time period so I am after “Y”DNA to confirm this theory.

I would like to hear some genealogists and family historians’ view and experiences on this grave subject.
Slan,
Kevin J O’Brien

mgallery
Posts: 183
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:27 pm

Re: Irish Graveyard Etiquette

Post by mgallery » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:51 pm

Kevin when my father died in the early 90s his neighbours dug his grave and what my cousin said is "those who helped you out in life helped you out in death". It was considered an honour to help out. Several rang and offered to help when we already had people doing it. My cousin told us to give them a six pack of beer and a half bottle of whiskey (he had sadly buried his own parents and grandparents so knew the customs). He said on the day of the funeral he had to say no singing in his pub and that the singers were the grave diggers.

This is not graveside but at home or in the funeral home are that on the night someone has died (or the night after) the neighbours call and at midnight the eldest child gives out the rosary and they don't leave until you say the rosary. I only know this as we didn't know why everyone kept sitting there until a neighbour got up to leave and at the door told me. The eldest child also gives out the rosary in the funeral home

What I have been told is that vaults pass to the male family members still in the area even if of a different name. So my father always said that we had a vault in Kilmurry Ibricken but that his father did not want to be buried there. His granduncle was buried there and his gt grandfather. That vault doesn't have the name Gallery on any of the inscriptions but John Daly says the last to be buried in it was a Gallery and we have the funeral reports saying Christopher Gallery was buried there.
Other than that if you asked some of the West Clare people still around they will tell you most likely
Margaret

Kevin J. O'Brien
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:19 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA

Re: Irish Graveyard Etiquette

Post by Kevin J. O'Brien » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:52 pm

Margaret,
Thank you. I enjoyed your personal story about your family vault and how the neighbors prepared the grave.
This is the kind of story I was wanting to hear from someone with first hand information.
Slan,
Kevin J
Last edited by Kevin J. O'Brien on Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mgallery
Posts: 183
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:27 pm

Re: Irish Graveyard Etiquette

Post by mgallery » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:46 pm

I don't understand your comment are you saying you don't want this on a thread though you posted it there but want people to pm you ?

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