Graveyards a monument to heritage

IT was a celebration written in a country churchyard last weekend, as an archaeological group delivered an informative workshop in Aghaboe Abbey offering those with a taste for heritage the chance to record some local history.

IT was a celebration written in a country churchyard last weekend, as an archaeological group delivered an informative workshop in Aghaboe Abbey offering those with a taste for heritage the chance to record some local history.

Organised by Laois Partnership in association with Laois County Council, the graveyard and memorial recording workshops are delivered by a team from Eachtra Archaeology and all information is displayed on the Historic Graves website. This is the first time such an initiative has taken place in Laois and Orla O’Meara of Laois Partnership hailed last weekend as a big success.

“It was hard to get people to go home. There were twenty in the group, from Aghaboe, Ballacolla, Ballyfin, Ballyouskill, Mountmellick and Clonenagh. They absolutely loved it,” she said.

The group were split into three: the first took photos of the headstones; the second complied written information, following a template devised by Caimin O’Brien of the National Monument Service; and the last group dealt with measuring and triangulating the monuments.

The morning training schedule was designed to introduce attendees to all aspects of historic graveyard survey and recording. In the afternoon, the group repaired to the hall in Ballacolla, where they were shown how to archive their information. The group also got the chance to seek advice from the professionals on all matters of history and heritage, subjects that Orla feels are growing in popularity.

“With the 1901 and 1911 censuses online for the last year, there’s been a huge interest in geneology,” she said, adding that interest was so high for the workshop they had to turn people away.

There is another opportunity to experience this unique cultural endeavour this Saturday, April 2, as the workshop relocates to Kilmanman Graveyard in Clonaslee, with an afternoon session in Clonaslee Community Centre. Numbers are almost full, but if anyone is interested there may still be a place available, so contact Orla at 057 8661900, or Catherine Casey, Laois County Council, at 057 867 4348.