840 Buttevant Tombstones Surveyed in Summer 1986 .
Dr David J. Burdon.
A survey of the four graveyards of Buttevant was initiated by the Buttevant Development Committee, including Chairman Jack O’Donnell, and Eddie O’Keefe [sic] with Michael McCarthy. The work was under the direction of Miss Evelyn O’Callaghan … with the advice of Dr. David Burdon, who also compiled the research. A grant from AnCO and a team of fieldworkers also made the project possible.
“During the summer of 1986, a complete survey was made of the 840 tombstones in the four main graveyards of Buttevant Parish. There are 340 tombstones around St. Mary’s, including six memorials within the church, there are 123 tombstones in the ruined Fransciscan Friary, there are 155 in and around St. John’s and 222 tombstones in Templemary graveyard.”
Interesting Facts from Graveyard Survey
- 176 or 21% of the 840 tombstones were illegible. However, the work of the survey group led a comprehensive account of the 840 graves. The data can be analysed in different ways and below is a selection of the information.
- A uniform number of tombstones was erected in St Mary’s and Templemary between 1751 – 1950.
- In St. John’s, a peak number of burials occurred from 1851 – 1900
- In the Friary, peak burials occurred from 1751 – 1800.
- There are only six inscribed tombstones earlier than 1701, and these six are located in the Franciscan Friary graveyard. However, these are in poor condition and difficult to read.
“It would seem that under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the Friary was destroyed in part at least, and all the ancient tombs going back to 1250 pulled down and desecrated. Under the Stewarts from 1603, conditions for Catholics were much improved. Around this time, the Franciscan Friary was in part rehabilitated, and a few of the burials which took place then are still to be seen.
The oldest of the tombs now found in the Friary are of the 1603 to 1625 date, though there must have been much older tombs. There are slight references to the main Barry tomb or tombs; these could be very old.”
The best sources for the earliest inscriptions are the early writers on tombstones
“To the south is St. Mary’s Chapel (South Transcept [sic]), in which are several tombs of the ancient Irish families, viz. – The Barrys, the Magners, Fitzgeralds, Prendergasts, Nagles Lombards and Supples; also one of a later date, of Mr. Richard Morgan, who died October 15, 1748, in the 107th year of his age. This man lived about 70 years at Castle Pooky, near Doneraile … Beside the above-mentioned tombs, there are others of the Coghlans, MacAuliffs and O’Kiefs.”
Crofton Croker (1824)
“The vault of the founder, David de Barry, is mentioned as being in the middle of the chancel, and is now only marked by dissevered pieces of hewn stone that indicate a square enclosure. Being recently opened to inter a descendant, a man who went down with the coffin described the interior to me as lined with the figures of different saints, the name engraved under each, and having at the upper end a tablet on which was a long inscription. On the south side of the nave is a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, of beautiful proportions, and containing many tombs and inscriptions to the memory of the Barries [sic], O’Dulins, Fitzgeralds, and Butlers … In the nave, choir and chancel, there are also tombs to those families, and to the Lombards and Mahers …”
Inscriptions on the Oldest Tombstones:
Oldest in St Mary’s
“This stone was erected by Garret Fitzgibbon in memory of his mother, Elenor Stapleton, who died February the 26th, 1706, aged 56 years. May her soul rest in peace, Amen.”
Oldest in Franciscan Friary:
“Here lies John Garet Barry of Kilmihil, and his wife and son; John Barry and Ellen Lombard erected this, AD 1603.” (translated from Latin)
Oldest in St. John’s
“The burial place of the Crofts family of Velvetstown. George Crofts died in March, 1718, aged 68 years. Mary his wife died in the year 1720, aged 70 years. Christopher Crofts died 9th July, 1759 aged 63 years. Mary, his wife died on 19th July 1784, aged 68 years. Christopher Crofts, died on 21st July, 1811, aged 56 years. Elizabeth, wife of William, died August 1813, aged 86 years. Mary, wife of Christopher, died 1st July, 1838, aged 80 years. Thomas Lucas Crofts died 7th March, 1847, aged 57 years.”
Oldest in Templemary
“Jeremiah O’Connor of Knockbarry erected this in memory of his father Cornelius who died April 27th 1700, aged 74. Also his brother Edmond who died July 12th, 1763, aged 64 years. May they rest in peace, Amen.”