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Irish Gravestone Inscriptions, Tracing your Irish Ancestors: Churches in graveyards
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How to Study a Graveyard

Churches in graveyards


  • Is there a church in the graveyard?
  • Is it still in use?
  • When was it built?
  • By whom?
  • How much did it cost?
  • Are there any monuments inside the church?
  • Are there any other buildings inside the graveyard?

    In most graveyards there will be a church still in use. It is important to find out something about the church such as the denomination it serves, when it was built and by whom. In many cases the present church will not have been the first on the site. Some churches have been rebuilt several times in their history. In some cases the church will have been in existence for several generations before people started to bury in its vicinity. This is particularly true for Presbyterian and Catholic graveyards.


    The oldest graveyards with a church still in use are nearly always attached to Church of Ireland churches. This is due to the fact that following the Reformation the Church of Ireland took possession of many of the medieval parish churches and made use of them itself, either repairing or rebuilding the existing building. This did not happen in every parish, however. Probably the only Presbyterian church occupying the site of a pre-Reformation church is Drumbo in the parish of Drumbo. In this case the Church of Ireland did not make use of the medieval church site.


    A few Catholic churches occupy or are built adjacent to the sites of pre-Reformation churches. These include Boho and Kinawley in County Fermanagh. Again this can be explained by the fact that the Church of Ireland did not make use of the medieval site, preferring to build its parish church elsewhere.

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