I like to write a few articles in my free time. Some have been published and some have not. Most of the articles are Ireland related and generally of a historical or cultural nature.
I may be contacted through the email on this site.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Gone But Not Forgotten Historic Graves of Kerry a review
My first review from the Irish Central , Based in New York.
Studying an underappreciated part of Ireland’s heritage, a direct portal into the past, the graveyards of those “Gone But Not Forgotten.”
Gone But Not Forgotten
Historic Graves of Kerry
Rónán Gearóid Ó
A study of graveyards may seem morbid to some, but
graveyards, underappreciated parts of our heritage, are full of forgotten
histories.It is these forgotten
histories that appeal to me and I travel the country seeking out lesser known
tales which led to me write two books on a variety of characters and episodes
from Irish history in Fadó and its
sequel Fadó Fadó. Graveyards are a
direct portal to the past and visiting old underexplored graveyards became a
hobby which resulted in Gone the Way of
Truth, a study of the graves of the great and the unknown of my native
Galway. Two years ago I turned my attention of Kerry, a county in which I spend
a great deal of time, both as a tour guide and as a place where I bring my
young family on holiday. Gone But Not
Forgotten is the fruit of several trips I made to Kerry and several hours
spent in research libraries.
Nowhere is the history of Kerry so concentrated than at
Ratass Cemetery, where more than thousand years of the Kerry story is
represented and though I mention a broad variety of people buried there, only
the surface is scratched. Some graveyards have an eerie but beautiful feeling
about them. Killegy, just outside Killarney is one such place and a massive
Celtic cross looking onto the mountains commemorates the Herbert family
interred underneath it while a ruined mort chapel there has a plaque informing
the visitor of a strange nocturnal burial there in 1714. Another Herbert, assassinated
during the Land war in Currans, has a more humble grave. Muckross Abbey has a
plaster sculpture of a lady in Roman dress dating from 1829. It is the work of Waterford
born John Edward Carew whose work is also to be seen on Nelson’s Column in
London. Dromavally contains the grave of the first casualties of the Easter
Rising. Cahersiveen has the simple grave of the Vatican Pimpernel, Monsignor
Hugh O’Flaherty who achieved international fame for helping Allied prisoners
escape from the Germans during the Second World War. Unfortunately fellow Killarney
native Jane McCarty, buried in France and who did similar work is not commemorated
with even a gravestone as it was destroyed when the lease on her plot ran out.
Graveyards are often located beside water as it provides a
barrier between this life and the next. Some have incredible tales attached.
The graveyard at Dromulton for example moved itself to Kilsarcon when an
unpopular person was buried there. When grave robbers broke open the tomb of
the Lady Dowager several decades after her passing at Ardfert, they were petrified
to find her corpse very much intact which ensured her a place in local lore. The county had several hundred graveyards for
unbaptised children known as a cillín or ceallúrach, though many have been
destroyed or reclaimed by nature when they went out of use in the 1960s. It was
not just unbaptized children who were buried here but also baptised ones,
vagrants, strangers, suicide victims and women who had died after childbirth
but who had not been churched.
The wake customs of Kerry are also described here in depth. Some
of the older rituals surrounding funerals seem to the modern mind quite bizarre.
Eibhlín Ní Chonaill, aunt of the famous Daniel O’Connell, drank her husband’s
blood after he was murdered by redcoats in 1773. The lament she composed at his
wake became the most famous in the Irish language. During the 18th century when the
penal Laws were enforced, gravestones were the only place where religious icons
could be displayed for Catholics and the surviving gravestones merit attention.
So too does the deep hand chiselled inscriptions as crisp today as the day they
were carved. It doesn’t matter that many of the words were misspelt as most of
the population was illiterate anyway. In a nod to the massive Kerry Diaspora,
the book features a chapter on Kerry people who made a name for themselves
beyond the county, people such As Daniel O’Connell, writers such as Maurice
Walsh and Muiris Ó Suilleabháin and winner of the Victoria Cross Richard
Kelliher to name but a few.
Kerry people of all hues are represented in this book, richly
illustrated with black and white photos. While not shying away from
controversial topics, I leave judgement of character to the reader for I seek
neither to extol nor condemn, just to tell the story of those who made Kerry.
Gone But Not Forgotten by Rónán Gearóíd Ó Domhnaill is
published by Lettertec.