Without us realizing it, our graveyards and cemeteries hold an immense amount of information about a region’s history. A new community focused grassroots project, HistoricGraves.com, will enable communities to record their local history online and deliver the tools to preserve the rich heritage in our towns and villages.

Funded by South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD), the programme’s folklorist, Grace Fox, has been contracted by SECAD to manage the HistoricGraves.ie project in this region.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of interest and participation in this grassroots heritage project, which will equip local communities with practical skills and enable them to survey the headstones and create a valuable source of genealogical information. This initiative is very timely in the year of the Gathering and the number of communities that have undertaken this training programme is steadily rising.”

The training provided includes important skills such as photographing and recording tombstones, carbon copying of inscriptions, audio recording of stories from the connected families, digital archiving and so on. The surveyed information is then uploaded onto the website HistoricGraves.com.

“A number of interesting discoveries across the country have been uncovered since this project was rolled and even in a small graveyard such as Caherlag graveyard, located in Glouthane Co Cork. Former Taoiseach Jack Lynch’s mother is buried in the Caherlag graveyard along with The Beamish family (Robert de la Cour Beamish and his wife) of the Beamish Brewery who are buried there in a large tomb, and on the gravestone it states Beamish of Ditchley House, which is now the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a centralized multimedia platform which will enable people from the four corners of the globe to source any genealogical data relating to their ancestral roots at the click of a button”, Fox added.

Since the Census in Ireland of 1901 and 1911 have been published online by the National Archives, finding genealogical information about ancestors has become much easier. The HistoricGraves.com project will work in a similar way, helping people to look through digitized information on our local cemeteries and ensuring that this information is not lost for future generations. As well as being of civic benefit to anyone looking for their ancestors, the programme provides a wonderful opportunity to study local history, while learning new skills at the same time. A closing exhibition will take place in SECAD offices in Midleton on Thursday 20 June at 7.30 pm.

SECAD is running regular courses in the South and East Cork area. If you would like to find out more about the HistoricGraves.com project or how to organize a Gathering event, please contact Grace Fox on 021.4613432 or email gfox@secad.ie.

A memorial stone in Tifeaghna, Co. Kilkenny - Gerry Mullins examines a memorial stone during a workshopHistoric Graves