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Kilmurry Church

Destroyed by Cromwell's army 1651

The Old Church and Graveyard At Kilmurry Ibrickane

The old church at Kilmurry dates back to the twelfth century and is actually built in the townland of Shandrum. There is no actual townland of Kilmurry Ibrickane. The Church was attacked and the roof stripped by Cromwell’s soldiers as they travelled the country about 1656. From then on it ceased to function as a church. At that time there was no road by the church. The road ran from the main road into Quilty, on to Seafield and over by Creggane. In the eighteenth cenury the landlord of the time decided to make a road connecting the Creggane road with the main road at Sullivan’s Cross. To do this it had to go through the graveyard. He had the vaults and graves levelled much to the consternation and annoyance of the locals and in spite of much opposition. Some people exhumed the bodies of their dead and buried them in another part of the graveyard. The earliest dated grave is 1777 and it belongs to the Woulfe family of Salus. The Woulfes were among a number of staunch Catholics in Germany who were disposessed of their land by Martin Luther. They came to Ireland and were given small parcels of land by the sea. This was to allow them to make a living from the sea as well as the land. This grave is still being used by the Woulfe family.

There are both Protestant and Catholic graves in the graveyard. We know this from the symbols on the tombstones. We know some were Free Masons as signified by the symbols of the compass and setsquare and the unusual symbol of the Crucifixion without a figure of Christ on the Cross.

Some of the head stones have the Celtic symbols of earth, air, fire and water. These can also be found in tombstones in Spain as told to us by a Spanish visitor. Other symbols are the cock in the pot, originating from the story that when Pilate went home after the Crucifixion he told his wife that they had crucified a man who had said he would rise again after three days. She said that was as unlikely as the cock she was boiling rising from the pot. With that the cock jumped out of the pot and said "Praise be Jesus Christ". Some have scales of justice, Mary Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalen. The devil is always represented as a serpent coiled under the Cross. We also see the thirty pieces of silver, the sponge and reed, the sword that pierced His side, the hammer and three pronged nails that were used to nail Him to the Cross and the inscriptions I.H.S. and I.N.R.I. One of the tomb stones has the coat of arms of the Shannon family. There is also a headstone to a travelling teacher named Casey whose descendants went to Australia and became high up in political Circles.

The Church was surrounded by the Fairgreen where some of the best fairs in the country were held. As the cattle had free access to the graveyard there were no standing headstones erected until the 50’s when walls were built around the two parts of the graveyard. A few families still use the old graves but most people from the area would now be buried in the new graveyard by the Church. For many years the graveyard was overgrown with weeds and briars but thanks to a Fás scheme it was cleared of the weeds and all the graves were fixed up and their surrounds gravelled.

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