Early in my blogging life, I pondered why the deceased’s qualifications might be carved on a headstone. It was the first time that I had read such detail and it did cause me to wonder why.
The time that has passed since then has allowed me to ponder why; to consider my opinion on my own degree; and, to observe many other qualifications engraved commemorating a life passed.
It is nearly thirty years since I received a piece of paper with Latin writing conferring me and acknowledging me as the holder of a degree. It has spent nearly all of the intervening period at the bottom of a drawer of a filing cabinet.
I am not sure, at this remove, that I respected the education received or the challenge set to make the grade. I suspect that this is an influencing factor in me rarely appending my qualifications to my name. They are only rolled out when really expected by the recipient of the piece of paper with my signature.
I have never thought of the letters as one of the four words that might best describe me.
Now is definitely too late. We have eyes in the front of our heads to allow us to look forward only – not any other direction. I wonder what might have happened with a different study choice and C.A.O. selection.
Seeing so many headstones with qualifications proudly displayed, I am jealous of those who were challenged by their education and who rose to the challenge; jealous of those who are so proud of their achievement that they far from hide it; and jealous of those who enjoy their work.
I have seen very many such headstones and now nod in admiration.
There are two careers in particular which demand a longer nod. The challenge of a sculptor to prepare a memorial to another sculptor – possibly his master – must be huge. On my Seamus Murphy trail, I have noted that he made the headstone to his sculptor father-in-law. ’No pressure there, then’ as the saying goes.
My admiration for the craft of the Blacksmith has been the subject of more than one or two blogs. The recording of ‘Blacksmith’ on a headstone always prompts a serious nod of appreciation and respect.
On Tuesday, in Abbeystrowry Cemetery, the headstone prompted a smile at the appropriateness of the perimeter treatment of the plot – the craft and skill did not die with James Hourihan.
Con, Connie, Cornelia and Neilus – I have met at least one person with each these names on my journeys about this planet.
I do not think that I have ever met a ‘Cornelious’ but some of those who I addressed as ‘Cornelius’ may have been silently offended at my assumption as to the spelling of their name.
When I spotted this headstone at Abbeystrowry Cemetery earlier, my first thought was that it was an unusual spelling – one that I had not seen previously. My crossword brain then kicked in thinking that words ending in ‘ious’ are generally adjectives – devious, previous, conscious…
Reading down the headstone, it appears that ‘Cornelious’ was a popular name in a branch of the McCarthy clan.
There are many names that demand clarification as to spelling when first introduced to the nameholder – Ahern/Aherne; Mahony/ O’Mahony/ O’Mahoney (generally leads to a soup discussion); and, Isobel/Isabel/Isabelle.
Cornelius/ Cornelious has now been added to that list.
The annual Irish Times list of most common children’s names tends not to change much – but below the top twenty, I suspect that there are a few names plummeting or even disappearing.
I do not think I know of someone called Gobnait, Concepta, or Attracta (shortened to Tracta) who is under the age of fifty.
I have a recollection of there being very many by the names of Mary, Finbarr, Noreen and Margaret when growing up – but I do not think that I have heard anyone in school with or playing with our ten year old by any of those names. Even extending the search to friends of neighbours, nephews and nieces does not hit a match with those names.
Even Patrick and Michael are 16th and 8th on the Irish Times list. They are definitely not as often encountered as they were when I was younger. Out of 120 pupils in my year, we could probably have had a full team made up of just Mike, Micheal, Padraig and all derivatives of Michael and Patrick – all children of the mid-sixties.
Recently visiting St . Mary’s Cemetery at Fanlobbus in Dunmanway, I spotted this headstone to Goodhand Clarke. My first thought was that it was a name more likely to be heard on The Little House on the Prairie or in a film about the Amish community – not one in West Cork.
I do like the name – both the sound and the message.
I am not sure our society is creating very many Goodhand’s.
‘I have made a magic study of the good thing that eludes nobody.’ – Arthur Rimbaud
That seed has taken some time to germinate. The growth spurt prompted by a tweet from Luke Portess as to similar bedfellows in Glasnevin.
I remembered a talk from Neil Richardson at Ennis Bookclub Festival being surprised at the very large percentage of Irishmen in the British Army at the time of World War One – as Ireland was a part of the British Empire, they were also fighting for or defending their country.
At the launch of ‘The Immortal Deed of Michael O’Leary’, Danny Morrison spoke of his grandfather joining the British Army in 1917 and that very many Irishmen joined on the understanding that victory would lead to freedom for Ireland (text here – well worth a read)
The seed has been a long time in bearing fruit but I am thinking that these neighbouring souls could actually have had the same hopes – just a different way of getting there. If one had not died in World War I, they might even have fought together some years later.
We will never know…..
Not for the first time, a trip to the cemetery has led to learning and connecting of historical dots of information.
The cemetery in question is at St Bartholomew’s Church in Kinneigh, Co Cork – the location of the only round tower with an hexagonal base, as well as headstone commemorating O’Mahony Mór.
Blogs I Read & Links
Thought & Comment
For the Fainthearted
Bock The Robber
140 characters is usually enough
That’s How The Light Gets In
Tea and a Peach
Buildings & Things Past
Come Here To Me
Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland
The Irish Aesthete
Ireland in History Day By Day
Buildings of Ireland
Irish War Memorials
The Standing Stone
Time Travel Ireland
Stair na hÉireann
Wide & Convenient Streets
The Irish Story
Our City, Our Town
West Cork History
Cork’s War of Independence
Cork Historical Records
Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story
40 Shades of Life in Cork