Conservation of Enniskeen Graveyard


The Committee would like to thank all those who have helped so far in providing records, their family histories and stories of the graveyard; these are currently being compiled and will be available on the website over time.  Please email us at if you have any information you would like to share with us.

This is a local project and so far has been funded by local people who have provided tools, skill and labour to help in the clearing and restoration, we are very grateful for this.  Currently a grid map is being compiled and will be available on this website in the next couple of months.  We also have many volunteers who have given many an evening to help in the Graveyard, this is a long term project for our community so if you would like to lend a hand please let us know.

Following are photos of the beautiful headstones which have recently been uncovered.  Our next stage is to try to decipher the inscriptions, and apart from some being in poor condition, many are in latin.  We hope to get some help for this from the National History Museum.

The following information has been gathered from different historical sources and compiled by Johnny Gilmore; reference documents are available on request.

The early Church of Inis Caoin existed here circa the 7th Century and was a typical hermitage of early Christian times.  It was practically surrounded by marshy land and in early times before the district was drained the Church was set on a small island.  In the vicinity of the Church of Inis Caoin is St Ernan’s Well, locally known as Tobernarny.  A pattern was formerly held here on the traditional festival date of 13th July and was held for the last time around the 1830’s.  The Well supposedly provided cures and many people made pilgrimage here.

Later in the 12th Century the medieval parish Church was built, it was a dependant of the Abbey of St Mary at Kells.  An early 17th Century map in Trinity College marks the Church and it is also shown as ruins on the Baronial map o 1609.  The Church was restored and used for Protestant services in the early 18th Century.  It was still a prominent landmark on 1779 and is shown on Taylor and Skinner’s Roadmap of that year.  The Church has since disappeared but the outlines of its foundations may be traced in the cemetery.  The stones from this Church were used in the construction of the new Church of Ireland in Kingscourt.  Built into the surrounding wall are sculpted fragments, the only surviving pieces of the old Church, many broken and difficult to classify.  At the time of dismantling, many of the tombs appear to have been broken or covered beneath the debris.  An archaeological exploration of the site with the restoration, where possible, of fragments of headstones and crosses would be very desirable.

A horizontal slab now sunk into the soil displays the figures of a man and woman in raised relief, probably late 16th Century.  There is also a horizontal slab circa 18th Century commemorating a branch of the O’Reilly family, known as the Sterling O’Reilly’s who owned property in the Parish of Mullagh.

There are between 199 and 210 gravestones with inscriptions and it is probable that a clearance would reveal many more buried stones.  There are also a great number of stones which bear little or no inscriptions, the earliest of these appear to be 1718 and 1730.  Members of the Pratt family of Cabra Castle up to 1835 are interned here.  Rev. Fr Birmingham, who built the first stone Church in Kingscourt, is also buried here, he died in 1826 after serving as Parish Priest for 47 years, and the position of his grave is still unknown at this time.  

The following document is an excerpt from the local history book ‘A Journey of Faith’ .

Enniskeen Church and Graveyard Excerpt from a Journey of Faith

Local volunteers hard at work at the initial clearing of the graveyard.

Some beautiful and well preserved headstones were uncovered in the clearing.

Enniskeen Cremetary Map 1910

Enniskeen Cemetary Map 1652

The following data was taken from Headstones and compiled by Mrs Jenny McMahon and Charlie O’Niell.  This is an ongoing task, if you could provide any assistance, e.g. translate from the Latin inscriptions, we would be appreciative of your help.

Graveyard Headstone Data

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