Tea Lane Graveyard, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Some people have a hard time passing shoe shops or pubs or art galleries. Me, I find it difficult to pass a cemetery. I’ve never visited one yet that wasn’t worth stopping for. Tea Lane Graveyard in Celbridge, although exceptional, was no exception. If that makes sense. Read more

Oughterard Cemetery, Co. Kildare, Ireland

To my shame, considering I’ve spent a sizeable part of my life in Co. Kildare, I only found out recently that Arthur Guinness was buried up the road in Oughterard Cemetery. I had never made a connection between the man behind the iconic pint of Guinness and the county of Kildare. Read more

Ballinafagh Churchyard Cemetery, Co. Kildare

The tiny cemetery that sits in the grounds of what has to be the most photographed church in Co. Kildare is a haven for a handful of local parishioners. Read more

The Friary Cemetery, Clane, Co. Kildare

Around the thirteenth century, the Franciscans came to the village of Clane and build a new abbey on the site of the old one founded by St Ailbhe eight centuries earlier. Visits from the Vikings and the Normans had put paid to the missionary work emanating from the holy site.

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St Michael and All Angels Cemetery, Millicent, Co. Kildare, Ireland

I’ve always loved Millicent Church and the rectory that went with it. Some years ago, when I had the chance to meet Charles Handy, the management guru whose father had been rector at St Michael’s back in the day, I told him how much I’d wanted to marry into that family just so I could live in the rectory. Read more

Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland

The last people I expected to find in Arbour Hill were Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, and Sean McDermott. I would have bet money that they were all safely ensconced in Glasnevin. But I’d have been wrong.

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Noble graveyard in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

Walking the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, we happened upon a family graveyard, home to the various Earls of Ormonde. The Butlers of Ormonde owned Kilkenny Castle for nearly six centuries. They had quite the run, from 1391 to 1967.

Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

High cross in Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

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Wolfe Tone's grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Bodenstown Graveyard, Co. Kildare

As a child in the 1970s, I remember June as an ambiguous time. Crowds would come down from the North to commemorate the death of Wolfe Tone, the founder of the United Irishmen and the ‘first leading light of Irish republicanism’. The laying of the wreaths by balaclava’d men was something I never got to see. I knew of it because my dad, a member of the Garda Siochána, was always on duty. I remember it as a series of Sunday commemorations ending in the one closest to June 20, the date Wolfe Tone died.

An account of the history of the commemorations dates it back to the 1800s, with various peaks and troughs depending on the popularity of the republican movement. The 1970s and early 1980s saw heavy traffic.

At home for Christmas, I stopped by to see the graveyard to see the place where it all happened.

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

It’s an odd little graveyard, with a mix of older headstones toppling over and new, more recent plots dressed for Christmas and well-tended. The five flag poles have memorial plaques at the bases, four of them noting the executions of republicans Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett, and Joe McKelvey, all executed as retribution for the killing of TD Sean Hales by the anti-treaty IRA in 1922. In a fascinating turn of fate, the execution order was signed by Kevin O’Higgins. Rory O’Connor had been best man at his wedding the previous year. Such was the madness of that era.  There was something quite eerie about seeing the word executed, particularly repeated as it was four times.

Wolfe Tone's grave, Bodenstown Co kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

There’s a small side gate from the main road and as you wander in the pathway, you’ll see a marker for Private Duffy who died in 1918. Curious to know more, I searched for him online and found this:

Duffy, Walter. Reg. No. 10675. Rank; Private, Leinster Regiment, Depot. Died home, July 7, 1918. Born Naas, Co. Kildare.

While there was just the one poppy cross and no flowers, the gravestone itself was in remarkably good shape. And I wondered.

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Next to the ruined church, to the left of the five flagpoles, there’s a replica of the dock from which Wolfe Tone gave his final address after pleading guilty to the charges brought against him. In it, he asked for death by firing squad but was sentenced to death by hanging. Historians seem to be in agreement that Tone died from a penknife wound of his own making. And yet he’s buried in consecrated ground, unusual for those who committed suicide in those days.


Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

Wolfe Tone's Grave Bodenstown Co Kildare

In this small graveyard, nestled between the villages of Clane and Sallins, lies a chapter of Irish history that includes in its list of visitors those who come to remember.  The group, the Wolfe Tones, have immortalised the graveyard in song. The words, written by Thomas Davis after he visited the grave in or around 1843 and found it unmarked but guarded by a local blacksmith who wouldn’t allow anyone to set foot on it.

Interesting reading

Wolfe Tone and the culture of suicide in eighteenth-century Ireland

Wolfe Tone’s speech from the dock


Famine graveyard Mullingar Co. Westmeath Ireland

Dying of famine

Those of you who grew up in Ireland might remember the nuns telling you to eat all your lunch because there were millions of black babies in Africa who were starving. Personally, I never got the connection. Why would they care whether or not I ate all my lunch? Hunger in another world so far removed from my own didn’t concern the inner workings of this six-year-old’s mind, even if she had heard stories of the Great Hunger – the famine. Read more

Educational epitaphs

I thought I was a little odd visiting Bródy Sándor’s grave each November and leaving flowers, but I have nothing on this 40-something French girl who comes to Ireland five or six times a year to visit Michael Collins’s grave in Glasnevin cemetery and also sends flowers for Valentine’s Day and his birthday. Amazing what Liam Neeson’s portrayal of the great man can ignite. Read more