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Irish Gravestone Inscriptions, Tracing your Irish Ancestors: Verses on the gravestones of children
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Poetry from Headstones

Verses on the gravestones of children


The death of a child is a shattering blow for a parent. The evident unfairness of such an early parting can test the faith of the most fervent of churchgoers, entrench the convictions of the wavering atheist, and add bewilderment to the uncertainty of the agnostic. Parents expect to outlive their offspring; it is in the natural order of things. A breach of this unwritten rule seems cruel and arbitrary.


Verses inscribed on the gravestones of children often strive to make sense of this premature separation by reinforcing the inevitability of future reconciliation, and the certainty of a longer life in the spiritual sphere:


The little star that cheered our home
Has set in death's dark gloom
The sweet wee flower that graced our path
Lies mouldering in the tomb
The angels saw the opening flower
And swift with joy and love
They bore her to a fairer home
To bloom in fields above
Erected by William & Sarah McConnell in affectionate remembrance of our beloved daughter Elizabeth who died 3rd October 1890 aged 19 years. Dromore Cathedral, County Down


They are gone to their rest, t’were vain to deplore them,
When God was their Ransome, their Guardian, their Guide,
He gave them, He took them, and he will restore them,
For death has no sting since the Saviour has died.
Agnew grave, Bangor Abbey, County Down, in memory of two children who died young 1825 and 1834


Take comfort Christians when your friends,
In Jesus fall asleep;
Their better being never ends;
Why then dejected weep?
Barr grave, Bangor Abbey, County Down – 2 sons died aged 9 and 6 months


Sometimes the grief of the parents is so profound it negates the comfort drawn from the hope of resurrection. This lovely verse can be found in Donaghcloney graveyard:


Leaves have their time to fall
And flowers to wither at the north winds breath
And stars to set, but Thou has all seasons for thine own,
O, Death we know when moons shall wane
When summer birds from far shall cross the sea
When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain
But who shall teach us when to look for thee
Erected by an affectionate parent in memory of an only and beloved child, Mary Ann Nicholson who died in infancy 1831


The need for hope of some spiritual redress for the temporal absence often induces the grieving parents to put consoling words into the mouths of their yearned for child:


Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.
In loving memory of our darling Rosie Helen Moorhead Adamson who fell asleep in Jesus 2nd December 1896 aged 8 years, Dromore Ist Presbyterian graveyard, County Down

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