According to P.J. and his lady wife, whose evening stroll I interrupted, when in Shanrahan Cemetery last week, this small section was a Cillín, where unbaptised babies were buried.
I remember first learning of a Killeen or Cillín or Ceallúrach over 30 years ago in a book by Mary Leland, which I have just borrowed from the library to relive that moment of amazement.
The amazement at the existence of such burial grounds was heightened by the fact that, to my knowledge, I had never seen a Cillín. This continued for many years, until 2014 when I spotted the above plaques in Cromane and Killorglin in Co. Kerry. Subsequently, I noted a plaque at Ballygarvan in Co. Cork and have spotted mention to some Cillín’s that have gone on my To Visit map
It appears that it has taken many years for Ireland to be no longer ashamed of Cillín, possibly facilitated and assisted by the passing of time since 1994 when the Catholic Church lifted the prohibition on unbaptised being buried in consecrated ground – only 26 years ago.
The Schools Collection of the National Folklore Collection has many references to ‘Cillín’ and ‘Killeen’ which hopefully I will study in the coming weeks. The Irish Examiner noted in 2014 of some Cillíní being brought back and recognised by the community. It is reported that there are 1,444 Cillíní on the island of Ireland – my expectation would have been a significantly greater number.
If you are aware of any plaque or memorial erected at a Cillín, I would be delighted to receive any details as to where, when, by whom – please use the Contact page
“As the lane curves around towards the graveyard there is a small patch of ground on which lumps of rough-hewn stone are scattered. They are small, each less than the size of a football. There is a sign that reads: ‘Don’t pray for us/ no sins we knew / But for our parents/ they’ll pray for you.
‘A lady was found drowned, it seems, on the Island Strand at the time when Santa Maria de la Rosa floundered. According to old stories about her she was a wealthy woman; she wore many rings and bracelets of gold and was buried at Castle Point where the graveyard is today. She was not buried, strange to say, in the graveyard proper but outside it. Years ago an old man showed me the spot.’
‘The weeping and the wailing grew loud again as the coffin was lifted on to the shoulders of four men, carried out of the house and down the steep and slippery path that led to the island harbour. On the way they passed the tiny graveyard at Castle Point, which was used for children who had died before they were baptized. The adults buried there were unidentified shipwreck victims, soldiers, suicides, and a few souls whose funerals had been confined to the island by storm.’
As we were making to leave the cemetery for the first time, local residents, P.J. and his good wife, out for their evening stroll, educated me as to The Fairy Tree and brought me to the grave of Katie Ryan where the headstone records the name of the deceased and the song.
It is a bad day when one does not learn something new.
There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.
Maybe Not Lost Lost – Just Lost In Plain Sight
When in Shanrahan last week, I decided to look out for headstones, the subject of Photo Requests on the Find-A-Grave website. Three requests proved elusive. William Wade was spotted close to the O’Callaghan mausoleum.
The date of death of 1965 suggested that the headstone of Edward Sackville-West would be easily found in the new part of the cemetery and it was. His Find-A-Grave biography does read of an interesting life.
That evening I met P.J. and his lady wife who were out for a stroll and advised that they understood that Edward was descended from the family that gave its name to Sackville Street – now O’Connell St. in Dublin. The referred me to a book by local historian Ed O’Riordan – Lonely Little God’s Acre on Shanrahan cemetery which has now been requested through the Inter-Library Loan.
On a Tuesday evening, outside Clogheen in County Tipperary, I was smiling broadly once the carver’s name was spotted. The headstone was admired, and touched.
Earlier this week, a long day’s work after an early start finished in Cahir just after five and I decided to treat myself to a Supertramp evening – I took the Long Way Home , the road not previously travelled.
I have recently started putting my ‘To Visit’ locations on a Google Map so that it is easier to cross-check diversions and distractions when time may permit on a journey.
I recently learned of Fr. Nicholas Sheehy via Tipperary Studies on Twitter. He was hung drawn and quartered in Clonmel in 1766 and buried in Shanrahan Cemetery, outside Clogheen in Co. Tipperary where he is also remembered with a monument outside the church and in the name of the local GAA Club – An t-Athair Sithigh.
Fr. Sheehy’s grave is in a reasonably prominent position in the graveyard – a double grave adjacent to the old church, shared with Rev. Dr. James Glison.
It is interesting to note that the plaque was erected in 1898, the centenary year of the 1798 rebellion and 132 years after his death. The tomb conservation was in 2013. The final project of my Local History course is on remembrance and commemoration – the To Do list not contains questions:
As ever, some knowledge leads to more questions.
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