CARR’S HILL FAMINE CEMETERY, MONEYGURNEY: not forgotten in death

There is an annual commemoration ceremony held at ST. Joseph’s Cemetery, Tory Top Road, Cork City, each year and this year, 2014, it will be held on Sunday

Carr's Hill cemetery group-3

Famine dead deserve better at cemetery on Carrigaline road

BY LEO McMAHON – SOUTHERN STAR   July 2011

CITY and county have come together in an effort to improve the condition of All Saints Famine Graveyard at Carr’s Hill, Moneygourney, between Douglas and Carrigaline.

‘We owe it as a duty and mark of respect of the thousands from Cork who died in The Great Famine which was our national holocaust,’ said Pat Gunn spokesperson for Cork and County Famine Group. He was speaking amid grass up to four feet in height concealing the memorial plaque unveiled by then US Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy-Smith 14 years ago in the otherwise unmarked burial ground to a group of interested and concerned people representing different organizations. They were county councillors from the Carrigaline Electoral Area, where the cemetery is located, Seamus McGrath and John A Collins; former Lord Mayor Brian Berminghan and fellow city councillor Henry Cremin; John Forde (former Carrigaline area engineer) director of South West Regional Authority (SWRA); Catryn Power, County Archaeologist; Vicki O’Donoghue of St Finbarr’s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE), Gabriel Doherty, History Department, University College Cork and Eddie Goggin.

Known also to many as ‘The Pauper’s Graveyard’, which closed for burials in the 1940’s, Catryn Power pointed out that it is protected under National Monuments legislation and while there is no obvious evidence of burials, the extensive site has hummocks and shallow hollows.  There is also a large metal cross which up to recently was illuminated. The land was donated by the Carr family to alleviate severe overcrowding in St Joseph’s Cemetery, Tory Top Road, Cork.  John Forde convincingly pointed out the main obstacle for public use of the cemetery for an annual commemoration and indeed for visits by members of the public is the extremely busy and dangerous N28 main road.  As those who gathered saw for themselves, there is space for just a few cars at the roadside which is around 200 metres from the graveyard via a farm lane and it is virtually impossible to pull out at most times of the day on what is one of Ireland’s busiest commuter routes linking the city with Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy, Crosshaven and Tracton.

It was hoped, said John, that a development by a sports club and a housing scheme would have resulted in a much safer and quieter access road from the Maryborough Hill side but in the current economic situation, this was now most unlikely.  A feeder road from a long awaited upgraded N28 was also unlikely in the short term. He therefore suggested that a temporary Famine memorial regarding Carr’s Hill be erected at St Joseph’s Cemetery but another proposal was for one on the green at the entrance and exit of St Finbarr’s Hospital, the former Cork Workhouse, from where most Famine victims were transported by horse and cart to the burial ground.  If and when any work, possibly under a Fas scheme, could start at the cemetery, said Catryn Power, suggestions included a scented garden with a pathway and seating to make it a place of contemplation and remembrance.  Due to the fact it was largely undisturbed for decades, the site contained rich flora and fauna and a fine perimeter of trees.  Proper maintenance would be essential.

The plaque on limestone reads: ‘150th anniversary – An Gorta More. In memory of the thousands of Cork people who died during The Great Famine and are buried here. Go ndeana Dia Trocaire Orthu.  Unveiled by Jean Kennedy Smith, US Ambassador. Erected by the Cork Remembrance Committee, June 2n  1997. Apart from the HSE, owner of the land, arranging for the grass to be cut twice a year, Pat Gunn said that since 1997 it had been sadly neglected.  From February to June 1847 alone, he pointed out, 2,260 famine victims from the Workhouse at Douglas Road (now St Finbarr’s Hospital) were buried there – many of them ancestors of Cork and counth citizens – and argued strongly that there was a duty as a mark of respect to the dead to make it more presentable and better maintained.  It was agreed that the high cross, a well known landmark overlooking the city erected by the late Cork taxi driver Euliffe Bunny Sorensen over 50 years ago, should be illuminated again along with careful pruning of trees to ensure maximum effect and for an approach to be made to the ESB, Airtricity and others for sponsorship towards this.

In 1999, Kevin Meaney, Carrigaline, with the support of the ESB, Novartis and Pat O’Sullivan of the county council installed floodlighting from the ground which was switched on at a Millennium Eve Mass celebrated by Canon Michael O’Brien.  The lights however, have since fallen into disrepair and been subject to vandalism. It was further resolved that the Joint City and County Councils Committee, which meets quarterly (the directorate for which is provided by the SWRA) should draw up a list of proposals to put to the city and county managers to see if the local authorities could assist the HSE on a planned basis and to explore all avenues of making safe access possible etc. While accepting that it wasn’t practical nor safe to encourage visitors at present, the grass leading from the gate to the commemorative plaque should be cut more regularly. It was also agreed that interested persons should meet on site on an annual basis to keep the matter on the agenda.  Anyone interested in the project can contact Pat Gunn at 021-4894196, email: patrickggunn@gmail.com.

 

 

 

© 2012-2016 Catryn Power All Rights Reserved

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33 Responses “CARR’S HILL FAMINE CEMETERY, MONEYGURNEY: not forgotten in death” →

  1. Margaret Garvey

    January 15, 2014

    I remember going on the bus to Crosshaven in the summer holidays way back when, and seeing the Cross lit up. It never failed to impress. Is it possible to visit the spot now?

    Mags

    Reply
    • YES, ONE CAN VISIT IT. BUT GREAT CAUTION SHOULD BE TAKEN AS THE ROAD AT THIS LOCATION FROM CORK TO CARRIGALINE IS VERY DANGEROUS. GREAT CARE SHOULD BE TAKEN WHEN SLOWING DOWN TO PARK AND WHEN EXITING THE POTHOLED PARKING AREA. THERE IS ROOM FOR FIVE/SIX CARS. THE SITE IS MARKED BY A SIGN ‘PAUPER’S GRAVEYARD’. ONE SHOULD HAVE BOOTS/WELLINGTONS ON AS THERE IS HIGH GRASS ON THE SITE. THE HSE WERE CUTTING THE GRASS WHEN I WAS COUNTY ARCHAEOLOGIST (AUGUST 2011), BUT I AM NOT SURE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED RECENTLY. A COMMITTED GROUP UNDER PAT GUNN HAVE CONSTANTLY CAMPAIGNED FOR THE SITE TO BE MAINTAINED AND MANAGED PROPERLY.
      THE SITE HAS A GREAT VIEW AND SHOWS THE MASSIVE SIZE OF THE BURIAL GROUND, INDICATIVE OF THE NUMBER OF DEATHS AT THE TIME IN UNMARKED GRAVES. I HAD ADVOCATED THAT THE SITE SHOULD BE A PLACE OF CONTEMPLATION AND PRAYER WITH A SIMPLE WALKWAY AROUND IT, SOME SEATING, AND PROPER PARKING. HOWEVER WHEN ONE TRYS TO PARK, THE REASON WHY THE LOCAL COUNCIL HAVE NOT DONE THIS IS, NOR ENCOURAGE IT, IS APPARENT, AT THE SAME TIME ITS CURRENT STATE IS NOT SATISFACTORY EITHER.

      Reply

  2. Shulagh O' Day

    January 17, 2014

    All Saints Cemetery
    Carrs-Hill

    Behind us was a graveyard
    Or a field with silver gates
    For there were no headstones to mark the peoples place
    The people that lay resting inside this sacred place
    Were placed into the earth and left to dessicate
    They were from the famine era, both paupers and the like
    Layed down to rest in this great place each and every night
    There was a man called Sorensen,that vowed to make a pact
    To build a cross so tall and strong, to mark this place of fact,
    He built his cross and erected it in the middle of the field
    With coloured lights and silver wire, and cement that came like steel
    He came each week to check it, and replace the broken bulbs
    And this went on for years on end, until one day he was gone
    Now the cross just stands there, all alone and bleek
    The bulbs have all blown and the graveyards gone to sleep
    The gates are all gone rusty, the grass is overgrown
    The people that lay resting
    Their Identity Unknown……

    by Shulagh O’ Day aged 16yrs

    This is a poem I wrote when I was 16yrs old, I met Mr Sorensen on several occasions when I was very very young, I have great memories of him arriving in the avenue in a big black hearse type car which I found out later of course it wasnt a hearse but a big old black Taxi, he always had a poodle with him, and a handful of bulbs, great childhood memories…..

    Reply
    • hi Shulagh

      that is an amazing memory and poem.
      Airtricity got the lights going three/four years ago; I would like to think that they are, and that the grass is cut. Perhaps someone will let us know.

      Reply

  3. Margaret Garvey

    January 18, 2014

    Hi Shulagh
    That is a beautiful poem and one I will keep.
    Good to know that this place impacted on so many.

    Sootashi, I can well believe you would take your life in your hands trying to access and park there, it’s a very busy road. It would be lovely if it could be more accessible, I think it would be an ideal spot for taking time out to think of those who suffered and are buried there and in so many other places around Ireland, and to remember them in our prayers

    Reply

  4. Shulagh O' Day

    January 22, 2014

    Sootashi : this poem was written in 1983 a very long time ago, this was the condition of the graveyard back then when the poem was written by me as a child 🙂
    Margaret : thank you so much 🙂

    Reply
  5. many thanks Shulagh,also for bringing up the topic of the cemetery.
    I received an update from Pat Gunn as follows, with regard to the cemetery at Carr’s Hill:

    ‘I’m looking forward to seeing the film documentary made by the Discovery Channel last Summer under the direction of Pete Wisdom. They spent several hours filming at Carr’s Hill and St. Finbarr’s Hospital last July. The film is on the history of food in Ireland and part of it covered the Famine. It is to be shown in the USA on the PCB channel during the Spring. Later it is to go out in the UK and Europe. We have been promised a copy of the dvd. The Cross is still lit courtesy of Airtricity and we now have regular meetings going, with the two Councils and the HSE at St. Finbarr’s Hospital. The grass also gets cut at intervals during the Summer so we have some progress made. I’ll keep in touch with and further news’.

    Kind regards and success in the year ahead,

    Pat – Cork and County Famine Group.

    Reply

  6. Margaret Garvey

    January 22, 2014

    That’s great, I would love to see that documentary.

    Reply
  7. as a recently elected county Cllr I would like too see something done to site great poem I to would to see dvd thanking you

    Reply
    • hi Councillor Murphy
      I will get back to you with the relevant information; it’s good to know one of the elected representatives is interested in the burial ground.

      Reply

  8. Margaret Garvey

    July 23, 2014

    Hear, hear! It would be lovely to see such a special place being restored.

    Reply
  9. hi Margaret, many thanks once again for your contributions to this blog; it’s why it’s all worth while.

    Reply

  10. Kevin O'SHea

    August 3, 2014

    Just came across this site now. I’ve been interested in the history of this grave site for a few years but thought it was not possible to visit it as the entrance seems to be through private property with a closed gate? I’ve just finished a genealogy diploma and my dissertation was on the Fermoy & Midleton workhouses. Kevin O’Shea 3 August 2014

    Reply
    • HI KEVIN

      I WILL PASS YOUR COMMENTS ON TO PAT GUNN, WHOSE GROUP IS ORGANISING THE COMMEMORATION. TRY TO ATTEND THAT EVENT, AS MANY OTHER RESEARCHERS SHOULD BE PRESENT. IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACCESS THE CEMETERY.

      THERE IS AN O’SHEA PROJECT IN WHICH YOU MAY BE INTERESTED, O’Shea yDNA Project

      Reply

  11. Kevin O'Shea

    August 4, 2014

    Many thanks sootash1 – I’m part of the O’Shea project and in contact with Margaret Jorand – I’ve had my yDNA test done

    Reply

  12. Kevin O'Shea

    August 4, 2014

    Margaret Jordan (not Jorand!)

    Reply
  13. well done, Kevin, for your interest, and comments

    Reply

  14. Dolores Tookey

    September 15, 2015

    Does anyone know who I could contact in regards to placing a bench in the graveyard my grandfather was buried there when a tragedy happening in 1920 does anyone know who I could contact regarding this, We would like to place a bench in memory of him I can tell the story to the person that deals with this and show proof of him being buried in the graveyard. Thank you in advance to anyone that would be kind enough to reply.

    Reply

  15. Dolores Tookey

    September 15, 2015

    Thank you for directing me to someone that may be of help to me, I have contacted him through email and I am awaiting a reply thank you for your time and your help it is very much appreciated
    It was nice when we visited to see that the cemetery was so well kept and in order, I was really expecting to see a derelict unattended place and it was so heartwarming to find that it was not like this, I would like to thank whoever it is that is doing such a good job in keeping the graveyard in such good shape, I for one am in great appreciation to whoever works hard to do this.
    Thank you again for your help

    Reply

  16. Ann Votier

    February 10, 2016

    Is there a register of people who have been buried here,I am looking for my great grandfather Francis Murphy and as he isn’t in any of the other cemeteries I think this must be the one.He drowned in the River Lea though he was just visiting the area from Newcastle upon Tyne 1897.Thank you.

    Reply
    • With regard to Carr’s Hill Pat GUnn who leads the group of people who ensure that the cemetery is maintained says ‘unfortunately there is no known register of deaths and burials at Carr’s Hill. The lady could try the Cork Archives but I don’t think that they have any information. Kind regards, Pat’

      Reply

  17. Ann Votier

    February 12, 2016

    Thank you for replying.There was a coroners inquest and have death certificate but sad to say no mention of where he was buried.

    Reply
  18. HI ANN,

    WHAT YEAR DID HE DIE? THAT MAY GIVE ANOTHER CLUE. ALSO TRY THE FOLLOWING HISTORIAN info@kieranmccarthy.ie.

    Reply

  19. Ann Votier

    February 13, 2016

    Have sent a message to Kieran.

    Reply

  20. Ann Votier

    February 14, 2016

    As Francis Murphy is in none of the other cemeteries this is the only one left so must be in Carrs Hill

    Reply
  21. hi Ann
    it does seem logical that he is probably buried at Carr’s Hill. Have you seen the cemetery?

    Reply

  22. Ann Votier

    February 14, 2016

    No I have only just found out about this cemetery,hopefully one day I will get to Cork to see it i live in Wales.I would love to purchase some photo copies of it.

    Reply
  23. I will ask Pat Gunn if he has any photographs, that he could send. The cemetery is in a beautiful location. There are no gravemarkers.

    Reply

  24. Ann Votier

    February 15, 2016

    Thank you would be nice if I could have some.

    Reply

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