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
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: email@example.com.
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