El Campo Santo, San Diego

Given the history of Irish immigration to the USA, it shouldn’t have surprised me to find old graves of Irish immigrants in El Campo Santo, a tiny cemetery in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town. What did surprise me though was that they hailed from the lesser known counties of Cavan and Longford. I don’t think I ever met anyone from Cavan until I went to Alaska. Established back in 1849, this physical history book is a rarity in that beside some of the graves it gives a short bio of some of those interred.

Many moons ago, while in South Carolina, I visited Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. It was where Patrick Swayze was filmed in the TV drama North and South. The tour guide pointed out all the old furniture, dating it back to the 1800s. I was less than impressed. My granny had similar stuff in her living room in Ireland. Old is a matter of perspective. I’ve lived in houses in Europe that have been older than cities I’ve lived in, in the USA. And yet here, at El Campo Santo cemetery in San Diego CA, the old world is still breathing in spirit.
El Campo Santo cemetery in San Diego CA
El Campo Santo cemetery in San Diego CA
Just as I wondered in Evergreen Memorial Park in LA, I paused for thought here, too, at how the Indian Babe wording might mistranslate into today’s lingo. The interpretive signs add so much to the cemetery and keep visitors there longer. Cemeteries like this are outdoor museums to times past. There are 477 bodies buried here. Not all are marked with crosses or gravestones and not all are buried within the confines of the walls. Some are outside, underneath the footpath and the street. The original 75 acres purchased by Walter P. Temple back in 1917 have been eaten up by progress and the residents scrunched into a much smaller space. That they’re preserved at all is a miracle in itself. Temple himself was related to the Workmans who have one of the oldest private cemeteries in the state, the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in City of Industry, California. It’s on my list.
2410 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
@ 2024 Mary Murphy