DANESTOWN GRAVEYARD (KENTSTOWN) CO. MEATH
SOME INTERESTING TOMBSTONES
Recorded by Dr. Beryl F. E. Moore, assisted by Mr.& Mrs. John Cawkhill. 1973
DANESTOWN GRAVEYARD is rectangular and situated on elevated ground. The gate is on the N side which measures 69 yards, E side 30 yards, S side 64 yards and W side 50 yards. The S side looks across a glacial valley to an esker ridge. The boundary fence is some 6 feet high and earthen on the inside but a stone wall and stunted quickset on the outside. The NE corner abuts the fort (a National monument) and is exactly opposite the only opening into the fort. One gets the impression that the graveyard is connected with the fort and therefore military in nature, perhaps the Bailey or a Coral. Between the fence and the graveyard proper is a deep and wide walk. The measurements of the graveyard proper are … N side 62 yards; E side 23 yards; S side 55 yards and W side 45 yards.
Cogan gives the measurements of the now non-existent church as 59 ft by 18.8 feet with the Chancel Arch 20 ft from the E end. The position of the W wall can be plotted in the grass, the E wall is completely gone and graves where it should be, a portion of the S wall some 6 ft. high is to be seen covered in hop plants and the N wall can at one point be seen in the grass. The Chancel Arch is completely gone and must have been level with the Russell tomb. The McKenna Tabletomb is situated in the Nave. Some dressed stones connected with the church were found by us, a Mullion for a 2- light window and 2 other window stones.
MacKinnons have been grounded in the Island of Skye for many centuries and some came to Northern Ireland and adopted Mac Kenna, Mac Kean, Mac Cannon and several other names in this country.
Beginning at NE corner and working across row by row to the S side
1) HICKEY 1827. Above the inscription is a Cross, IHS and 3 Nails which is the favourite motif in this graveyard.
2) CHISTOPHER CARTER OF TUITERATH 1891
3) MRS. MARG. KELLY OF KNOCKCOMMON 1824
4) MARY DUNCAN OF VELDENSTOWN 1924
5) JOHN & ANNE DALY 1779
6) PATRICK & JOHN DALY 1757. In memory of James Daly.
7) THOMAS DALY OF VELDENSTOWN 1791. Erected to his son John Daly. A large cherub’s head with outspread wings on each side of a Cross and IHS.
8) PATRICK DALY OF BROWNSTOWN 1892
9) EDWARD IVORY 1854
10) JOHN DALY OF RIGINS 1808. A large stone broken in 2 pieces with an inscription on the upper piece only. A curious ridge 1 in. high and ½ in. wide surrounds the inscription which reads “Erected by Thomas Daly in memory of his father John Daly of Rigins who departed this life December 10th 1808 aged 58 yrs.”
11) A badly worn stone. We failed to read any name but name but date was 1858.
12) DALY OF LUNDERSTOWN 1815. At the top of this stone is some very fine carving … A Crucifixion, Christ’s Head inclined to the viewer’s left, arms upraised, knees straight and wearing a loincloth. Behind our Lord and below Him is an altar with a candle in a candlestick on each side. The flames can be clearly seen. IHS is carved in the centre of the Altar. To each side of this motiff is a cherub portrayed in a kneeling position.
13) A tall stone lying on its face on the ground.
14) MARY KELLY OF MULLAGHFIN 1859. The inscription says “Erected by John Kelly of Mullaghfin in memory of his mother Mary Kelly who died 27th Decr. 1859 aged 73 years. Also his father John Kelly died 26th August 1868 aged 86 yrs. and his brother Patrick Kelly who died 23rd December 1885 aged 60 yrs. also his sister Jane Kelly who died 26th August 1890 aged 70 yrs”.
15) WATT CAMMELL 1737. A small stone with this stone was “Erected by Watt Cammell woo departed this life June 24. 1737 aged 84 years. Also Cavan (or Cauin) Cammell”. We are not sure of the Christian name of the last person recorded. “Who” is spelt “Woo”. This is the earliest stone we found.
16) MC CORMICK 1876. Inside an iron railing is a small iron plaque stating “The burial place of McCormick 1876”.
17) GUGERTY 1832. Inscription reads “erected by Thomas Gugerty in memory of his son James Gugerty who departed this life on the 24th of July 1832 aged 8 years. Also his son Thomas who died on the 17th of July 1834 aged 6 years.”
18) MC CARTAN OF BALRATH. No Date.
19) No name can be read but date is 1766. A small stone.
20) PATRICK RUSSELL 1826. This stone is placed just outside then N wall of the old church about level with the now non-existent chancel arch; but unfortunately it is broken in 2 pieces and the upper piece has slipped behind the lower piece which is still inserted in the ground in its correct position. They were much sunk in the ground but we have exposed all the inscription, some of which is carved on each piece. It is a large heavy stone and apparantly had a special end piece or “stopper” some ½ ft. high on each side of the slab. The one on the S side was almost completely under the ground but in its correct position, while the one for the N side we dug up nearby. The ornamentation on this stone was some of the finest we found in Danestown graveyard. At the top of the stone in the centre is a variation of the favourite local motif: a cross, IHS and a heart each under the other and all within a sunburst. A Cherub’s head with outspread wings is carved on each side. Underneath we get a considerable amount of drapery carved in folds and knots, ending in 2 big tassels which have a figure about 12 ins. high on each side underneath them; while below each figure is some very delicate tracery representing shamrocks and leaves. These carvings extend on each side of the slab outside the inscription almost to ground level. 1) The figure on the left of the viewer is an ecclesiastic wearing a robe to the ground, a mitre on his head, his right hand on his chest in the 3-finger blessing attitude, his left hand holds his crozier. Could it be St. Patrick as one of the persons interred in this grave and the erector of the memorial was Patrick? 2) The figure on viewer’s right was a very large and clearly carved nimbus, a robe to the feet; the right hand supports a crown balanced on his fingers, while his left hand holds what appears to be a scourge. The knots on the thongs can be seen. Could it represent St. Michael with a crown for the good and a scourge for the wicked?. The inscription is as follows “This monument was erected by Peter Russell of Danestown in the year of our Lord 1836. Here lyeth the body of Mrs. Margaret Russell otherwise Deven wife of Patrick Russell who departed this life the 10th day of June 1826. Also one of his children who died young. Also the above Peter Russell who depd this life 6th December 1839 aged 54 years and also Margaret Russell who department this life 7th March 1840 aged 74 years”.
21) GOUOSK 1741. Inscription reads “This burial place belongeth to Richard Gouosk. Here lyeth the body of Catherine Gouosk who departed this life the 15th day of August 1741 A.D. aged 45 years.” There appears to be the letter “M” before each “Gouosk”, so we suggest these people were French and “M” stands for “Monsieur” and “Madame”.
22) TULLY OF RATHDRINA (2 Tombstones).
23) PATRICK HALPIN OF RATHDRINA 1869.
24) BRIEN OF SISELY 1882. Above the inscription is a star with IHS below it and under that a heart. Inscription reads “Erected by Edward Brien Sisely in memory of his father and mother also his brother John who died March 9th 1882”.
25) CHRISTOPHER MORGAN OF KENTSTOWN 1839.
26) PATRICK AUSTIN OF KENTSTOWN HOUSE 1913.
27) POLIAN 1806. A large thick slab broken in 2 pieces, the lower one apparently still in its correct position S of the existing 6 ft. high bit of the S. wall of the ruined church and immediately E of the Walsh Tabletomb (32) while the top piece rests against the E end of the above mentioned church wall. Some of the inscription is on each piece. We think the fine carving on this memorial stone is by the excellent sculptor who carved the Russell stone. At the top of the upper piece is a cross, IHS and a cherub’s head inside a sunburst. On each side of this central motif is a spray of leaves and 2 roses. After some sentences there is a nice scroll completing the line. On either side of this slab there was also an end piece (or stopper) similar to those found in connection with the Russell Tombstone, but in this (the Polian) case both are beautifully carved. 1) The end piece on the viewer’s left appears to be a bishop with a robe to the ground, a well carved cope, a mitre with a cross on top, a crozier in his left hand pointing outwards and shaped like a shepherd’s crook. His right hand is placed across his chest and he has a cross on a chain hanging round his neck. 2) The figure on the viewer’s right is very badly flaked and only a bit of the design still exists and that appears to be a naked man sitting on a rock like a bather resting, while below him is a skull and crossbones. Could it represent St. John the Baptist? The cross on top of No. 1’s mitre when touched disappeared. Both of these stones are flaking very badly. The inscription reads “This stone was erected by William Polian of Brownstown Co. Meath in memory of his son Patrick Polian who died the 8th day of August 1805 aged 18 years. Also his daughter Mary Polian who departed this life 24th day of February 1806 aged 26 years. Here also lyeth the body of the above William Polian who departed this life 10th November 1823 aged 85 years. Also his son Andrew Polian who departed this life 17th of July 1824 aged 35 years. Likewise his wife Margaret Polian otherwise Blake who departed this life the 23rd day of February 1826 aged 73 years. Requiescant in pace. Amen”.
28) POLLUNE 1763. A small stone ¾ buried in the ground which we raised. It is in line with No. 27 and very close to it so we think it might belong to the same family and perhaps be an earlier spelling of Polian. Each time a word is shortened the last letter (or letters) are very small and have a comma below them. The inscription reads. “This stone was erected by Christr Pollune in memory of his father Christr who depd 24th Feby 1763 aged 60 years. Also his Mother Brigid Pollune depd June 20th 1763 aged 55 years”. After the first and last sentences there is a fancy curl.
29) OUNAN OF MULLAGHFIN 1855. A large cross is carved on top passing through an IHS, and all inside a sunburst with Gloria in excelsis Deo around the lower half of the sunburst. We feel that there is something wrong about this name and I suggest that it might be an illiterate Mason’s error for “Dunan”. Fr. Cogan in Vol.1 pages 342/3 gives a long account of a priest who was PP of Dowth till 90 years old and who was buried in Ardmulchan in 1761 with the name of Dunan.
30) JOHN CONNOR OF FAIRLAND 1874. A marble tombstone with a solid cross on its top placed inside the church ruins immediately E of the McKenna tabletomb.
31) MC KENNA TABLETOMB. 1770. This is a very massive affair and stands on some well- carved pedestals – likely 8 originally. It is situated in the W end (Nave) of the ruined church. Above we get a cross, IHS and 3 nails, also a chalice. At the bottom within a circle of 17 ins. diameter is a fine representation of a crest and coat of arms of a very extensive and elaborate type, though it does not agree with the arms of the McKenna family as given by Maclysaght. Crest …a dove with outstretched wings and an olive branch in her mouth standing on a helmet with a closed visor. Below is a wreath and mantling. Then we get a stag with antlers on the viewer’s left and a staghound chasing him on viewer’s right. Then within a shield … 2 crescents at the upper corners. A ship with 2 banks of oars, a central mast with upper and lower furled sails attached to it, and a furled sail on either side of the mast. There was we think a figurehead on the stem and a steering oar on the stern, but the carving is not very clear at these points now. A large 3-cornered piece has been broken off the lower corner of the slab on the viewer’s right but we corrected this mishap as best we could. The inscription reads; “Erected by the Rev. John McKenna in memory of his beloved Father Michael McKenna of Brownstown who departed this life 20th Feb. 1770 also his beloved Brother William McKenna of Brownstown who departed this life 6th April 1776 the underlined commemorated by their beloved relative James Boshell Fairland. James Mckenna Fairland died 17th March 1837, aged 85 years. Also his beloved wife Martha who died 18th Jan. 1849 aged 82 years. Also their children John died 24th June 1808 aged 9 years William died 21st Sept. 1836 aged 39 years Margaret died 8th Nov. 1854 aged 57 years Patrick died 10th Nov. 1865 aged 73 years also Mary died 20th Nov. 1867 aged 72 years. Requiescant in Pace”.
Patrick Joseph McKenna who died on 10th November 1865 in London and was brought home for burial in Danestown as recorded on this stone was a great linguist and an early foreign correspondent of the Times for many years in several European countries.
Du Noyer made a drawing of the carving within the circle at the bottom of the McKenna inscription and it can be seen in the R.I.A. Dublin. The memorial of the dead also record their reading at the beginning of this century of this tabletomb.
32) WALSH TABLETOMB 1814. This is a very similar tabletomb to the McKenna one (No.31). At the top we get in small lettering “Richard W Walsh Williamstown Castlebellingham born 6th December 1843 died 3rd March 1937”. Then comes a cross, IHS and 3 nails within a sunburst and a chalice underneath and “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” in a half circle. Then “This tombstone was erected by the Revd. Thomas Walsh Parish Priest of Kentstown etc. etc. in memory of his father and mother who are here interred also the body of his brother James Walsh and likewise the body of Mary Walsh the wife of his brother Richd Walsh of Balrath who departed this life the 18th February 1814. also the remains of Richard Walsh who died 19th of September 1825 also his son Richard Walsh who died 31st of August 1833 aged 33 years also his youngest daughter Jane Walsh who died 15th of January 1812 aged 16 years”.
Then follows upside down the entry of the burial of the Rev. Thomas Walsh the erector of the tomb. Was it written upside down to show he being a cleric was buried facing west while all the others being members of the laity were buried facing east?
“Here lieth the body of the Revd. Thomas Walsh son of Robert Walsh and Jane Pentony and Parish Priest of this place near 25 years who departed this life the 7th of December 1875 aged 72 years. Requiescant in Pace”. Then follows the rest of the family entries facing the right way i.e. East. “And Elizabeth Walsh who died 15th March 1847 also Jane M Walsh who died 25th December 1876 also Dr. James G. Walsh who died 7th March 1884 and also Richard Walsh Balrath who died 18th November 1808 aged 85 Y”.
Then added in small letters at the end of the stone is “Annie Walsh Balrath born 22nd August 1846 died 18th August 1932 aged 86”.
33) ROBERT WALSH OF KEENOGUE 1816. At the top we get a cross, IHS and a heart inside a sunburst. Inscription reads “This stone was erected April AD 1816 by Robert Walsh of Keenoge in memory of his Father and Mother John and Jane Walsh who are here interred”.
34) WELSH OF MOUNTALYMER 1745. On top of the inscription we get a very fine portrayal of the instruments of the Passion… beginning at the viewer’s right … The Temple, scourge, cock on pillar, pincers, a round thing we have failed to identify unless it might be St. Veronica’s handkerchief? A cross with Holy Ghost sign above it, in the centre, and a lance and ladder leaning against it; then 2 dice, crown of thorns, seamless robe, 2 cherubs above the instruments of the passion and above that again a fine scroll. Could Welsh be the early spelling of Walsh?
35) RICHARD FINEGAN 1783. Erected by Andrew Finegan of Drogheda.
36) ANDREW WALSH 1813. Erected by Patrick Walsh of Beaumont Miller.
37) MATHUS OF THOMASTOWN 1817. A Very badly flaked stone.
38) PATRICK DONNELLY 1882.
39) GEORGE MADDIN. At top is a cross, IHS in a sunburst.
40) JOHN DONNELLY OF DANESTOWN 1880.
41) BYRNE OF ELMSGROVE 1827. A cross, IHS and a small cherub’s head inside a sunburst, with a large cherub’s head and outstretched wings on each side of it. The inscription reads “This stone erected by Thomas Byrne of Elmgrove in memory of his posterity. Here lieth the body of his wife Mary Byrne otherwise Wasser who departed this life June 19th 1827 aged 29 years. Also his daughter Mary Dwyer who died Feb. 3rd 1901 aged 70 years”.
42) MADDEN 1830. There is some fine carving on this stone: a crucifixion on top with Our Lord’s legs in front of an altar and the rest to his body above it. This has a candle in a candlestick on each side. The flames are clearly portrayed. A cherub’s head with outspread wings is carved to each side of the crucifixion.
43) THOMAS WALSH 1834.
44) PATRICK BLAKE OF SISELY 1790. A cross, IHS and cherub’s head inside a sunburst, with around the upper half of the sunburst “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and around the lower half “Deo Care, Nihil Carens” which is “O You, who are dear to God, lacking nothing”.
45) PATRICK LYNCH OF WALTERSTOWN 1798.
Row 17 ………………………………………
46) MRS. ROSE MAGUIRE KENTSTOWN 1801. A large chalice on each side.
47) MARY GERAGHTY KENTSTOWN 1893. Above we get a heart with flames and a crown of thorns around it. To viewer’s left are 3 nails and to right a hammer.
48) ELEANOR NEIL 1811. This name at a later date is spelt Neil and O’Neill in 1905.
49) MATTHEWS KENTSTOWN 1863 & 1872. Could Matthews have been spelt Mathus (37) at an earlier date? This tombstone has nice sprays of flowers and leaves above the inscription.
50) EDWARD DONNELLY OF DANESTOWN 1863. At the top we get a ram lying on a recumbent cross.