Ceremony recalls tragedy of those buried nameless

October 2nd, 2019 11:22 AM

By Southern Star Team

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ADULTS and babies who were buried in unconsecrated grounds and without a name were remembered at a touching ceremony in the grounds of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Barryroe.

Courtmacsherry and Barryroe History Group spearheaded the project and, last Sunday, Mary O’Leary explained the reasons behind the ceremony.

‘Each one of us standing here has a surname. So did everyone buried in a cillín – adult, child, and infant. We don’t know a single one. Each of us here has what we call ‘a Christian name’. Unbaptised babies did not even have that. Perhaps a grieving family had given a dead baby a name. It is safe to say that every one of us has an ancestor buried in a cillín, maybe not in this parish, but somewhere.’

The memorial in the corner of the grounds has created a sacred place where those who lie in the cillíní of Ardgehane, Ballinaifrinn Cross, Ballinluig, Ballylangey and Ballylangey Fort, Carrigeen, Cnoc na Carraige and Cuas Torainn in Dunworley, Donaghmore, Goffs’s Cross in Cullenagh, Killsillagh, Lehenagh, Lislevane and Lislevane Cross, Mounrua, Narry’s Cross and Shanagh and wherever else un-named kin were laid to rest, can be remembered.

The memorial consists of a central stone inscribed in Ogham (ancient Irish script) and surrounded by 18 smaller stones. The large stone, approximately 6’ tall (kindly given by parishioners Brendan and Claire Keohane) represents the headstone that normally marks a grave.

It also symbolises the men, the fathers of stillborn babies, the neighbouring men, who came together silently in times of trouble, the local men, who gathered to bury drowned sailors.

The surrounding stones represent the 17 cillíní in the parish, with an additional stone for those whose burials took place outside the parish. The Ogham inscription, which should be read from the bottom up, means ‘Suaimhneas’ which translates as ‘Eternal Rest’.

Parish priest Fr Dave O’Conell and John O’Brien also addresed the attendance. A special trubute was paid to William Casey, who John O’Brien described as ‘the expert on cillíní in West Cork’.

‘He was our inspiration for this project, following his lecture in Butlerstown on the night we made our intention public.’  Mr O’Brien also acknowledged the input of Michael Madden and John Madden. The Ogham inscription and a plaque were executed by Liam Lavery.

The history group also acknowledged his input and that of artist wife, Eithne Ring. The ceremony concluded with Evelyn and Anne-Marie O’Brien singing the Brendan Graham composition, Cnocán na bPáistí, that he wrote about a cillín near his Co Mayo home.

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