Burial Grounds

Kilbride graveyard header pic

'The historic graveyard plays an important role in the cultural life of Irish people and represents the focal point in the historical life of a parish. It is a place where the ancestors of the parish have been interred, a place where, in some instances, burial practices may be traced back to the origins of Christianity and in other graveyards to the 12th century with the introduction of the parish church and its adjoining graveyard. The graveyard is often seen as the symbol of the parish and offers important clues to the historical development of that parish. Keeping the graveyard in good condition is important to local people as it reflects pride in their parish and is an acknowledgement of the contribution our ancestors made to its development.'

Page 6 Guidance for the Care Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards by archaeologist, Caimin O'Brien

Database of Offaly Burial Grounds 2015

During 2014/2015 a database of all known burial grounds was compiled by Stephen Callaghan in the Heritage Office of Offaly County Council.  This can be downloaded here - Offaly Burial Ground Database. Any comments or queries should be emailed to heritage@offalycoco.ie. The database gives details of the ownership which in the vast majority of cases is a Church Body or Offaly Local Authorities. 

Care and Maintenance

Please note that all work in graveyards must be carefully planned. In many cases the site will come under the National Monuments Acts (1930 – 1994) which states it is the requirement of owners and occupiers to inform the Minister two  months in advance, of their intention to carry out any works to or within the vicinity of a National Monument. The heritage office would be pleased to discuss any works planned for caring for your graveyard and to outline the help that may be available.


For many of the pre 1700AD burial grounds there is information on www.archaeology.ie. You can search by county, townland and monument type ie childrens' burial ground.

National Graveyard Advice by Caimin O'Brien published by the Heritage Council. (November 2010)

Download Guidance for the Care Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards or email heritage@offalycoco.ie for a hard copy.

Recording Memorials

The heritage office is currently working with a number of groups in the county to explore the most effective way of recording memorials. As years pass, memorials are becoming increasingly hard to read and the need to record them is now pressing. If you are interested in recording memorials please contact the heritage office.

See also the chapter on recording in Guidance for the Care Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards by archaeologist Caimin O'Brien

For a comprehensive approach to memorial recording see Heart and Soul, A History of Saint Brendan's Graveyard in Birr by Stephen Callaghan and Caimin O'Brien published by Offaly County Council in 2016. Copies are available from all libraries or can be purchased in Offaly History, Bury Quay, Birr Castle and Gardens Shop, Midland Books in High Street Tullamore, Tullamore.

St Mary's Church of Ireland in Geashill completed the recording of all the headstones and have erected an information board. You can download this as an example, courtesy of the Vestry. Geashill Information Board

During the summer of 2015, St Rynagh's Burial Ground, Banagher erected an information board showing the location of headstones and the names. Download St Rynagh's Banagher Burial Ground Information Board. The information was gathered by a local team headed by James Scully and the design is by Eoghan Broderick.  In 2020 Forgotton Souls by James Scully was published by Offaly History and documents all those buried in this burial ground.  Available from Offaly History, Bury Quay Tullamore (or online shop) or Midland Books, Tullamore or locally in Banagher.  

In 2018 Kilmanaghan Burial Ground (nr Tubber) erected an information board which uses an aerial image to plot the sites.

Recommended reading

Guidance for the Care Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards By Caimin O'Brien, Published by the Heritage Council in 2010.

The Heritage Council have also produced a useful poster guide to Ireland's Historic Churches and Graveyards.

Conservation of Historic Graveyards, Guide for Practitioners, Historic Scotland, 2001, available through the library service or through www.historic-scotland.gov.uk