Situated about 1km from Edenderry on the road to Rhode is a 14th century Franciscan Abbey and Graveyard, and but for the sign below you might miss it.
However a small bit of online browsing led me to this place one wet Sunday afternoon. Despite the inclement weather I was glad I went there as it got me quite annoyed. It was one of those times when it was reinforced to me what little regard we sometimes have for our local history and heritage. Now before you go all defensive, I’m not saying all parishes, towns and counties are the same and it’s only my opinion! In fact I visited another graveyard on the same day not far from this place and it was like chalk and cheese.
I found the graveyard in Monasteroris overgrown with very long grass, many headstones covered in ivy and crypts taken over by weeds and bushes. I realise it’s Winter and maybe the wet day didn’t help, but grass can be cut all year round, bushes and briars can be trimmed. To see it in such an untidy state is a bit sad and disappointing.
Surely each county has a heritage budget which can be spent on basic maintenance of old graveyards, particularly if they have some known historic links. If councils are strapped for cash, why can’t they think outside the box and think of a different way to get the job done at no cost. If I can think of ways, surely our elected Cllr’s can do the same? Why not get the unemployed working on a restoration programme, how about donating sites to colleges for practical work, ask schools to get involved, put the ask on local businesses to sponsor a programme, look for private donations, could the retired community help…..there’s lots which could be done if we just gave it a little bit of thought!!
What I did find here though was a mix of very different types of burial stones, there were the usual high crosses & standing headstones, but there were also single stone markers, metal crosses, stone tombs and gated crypts. The church dates from 1325 and according to the plaque on the wall it was in use until 1777/78, thereafter it was divided into crypts. It seemed like a mix of religions here too.
There’s an obvious celtic cross (it has a metal railing around it) which was erected in memory of two United Irishmen Fr. Kearns and Colonel Perry who were hanged in the nearby Blundell Wood in 1798.
Inside one of the gated crypts I found some stones in memory of some members of the Odlum and Clarke family from near Geashill, Co. Offaly. A quick search on Roots Online told me that Jane Odlum (nee Clarke) , was originally from Glenageary, Dublin and had married Benjamin R Odlum, a gentleman farmer from Geashill in 1888. Is this what was known as the landed gentry?
This project is teaching me lots of skills on how to research family history but there were two important learnings on this day. One, I definitely want to be cremated (family take note!), and two, I need to invest in a pair of wellies 🙂