Each record comprises a transcript of the original memorial transcription. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
• First name(s)
• Last name
• Type (graveyard or cemetery)
• Description of burial place
The record set comprises 8,469 records from 128 graveyards and churches in Galway and Mayo.
The records date up to 1901.
Gravestone inscriptions and church memorials are a valuable source for genealogical research and local studies. This is especially true when paper records have not survived, as is the case for many parish registers from the west of Ireland.
The ‘Place’ field usually shows which church the deceased belonged to.
The ‘Memorial’ field provides detailed information about the deceased. From this, you can discover the date of your ancestor’s death, their date of birth, and possibly the names and death dates of their spouses, parents, and other family members. You may also be able to see the name of the person who was responsible for erecting the grave.
The ‘Description’ field reveals further information about the graveyard and its location, and often a brief history of the church and its surroundings. The description may also provide a historical background to the types of graves in that burial place; for example, graves of victims of the Irish Famine, the cholera outbreak of October 1832, and a memorial to victims of the RMS Lusitania, which sank off the southern coast of Ireland in 1915. Also included are details about the process of transcribing the memorials and whether the memorials are in English or Irish.
In Tierna graveyard in County Mayo, there is “a Holy Well dedicated to St. Brendan with instructions for conducting a pattern and a stone reputed to have the knee marks of the Devil worsted in a battle with the saint.”
In Partry Old graveyard in County Mayo, the description reads “A local tradition has it that the priest hunter, John Mullowney, was drowned near here by a priest and is buried in Ballintubber Abbey”. Mullowney (1690 – 1726) was a notorious priest hunter during Penal Times. The 1709 Penal Act demanded that Catholic priests take the Oath of Abjuration and recognise the Protestant Queen Anne as Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland. Any priest that refused was sentenced to death. Mullowney used his rewards from priest hunting to fund his heavy drinking and lavish lifestyle. He was murdered near Partry and his body buried in unconsecrated ground.
Brian J. Cantwell
Brian J. Cantwell (1914-92) was probably the best known and most industrious transcriber of gravestones and church memorials in Ireland. During the last 20 years or so of his life he transcribed and then printed 11 volumes of graveyard and church memorial transcriptions. These volumes were a comprehensive treatment for Counties Wicklow and Wexford, and also covered a large proportion of south County Dublin. Other transcripts by him were either published in journals (Galway and Kildare) or remained unpublished (Clare, Cork and Sligo) until 2005 when they were published on CD by Eneclann.