I am going to Ireland in June and would appreciate any help in finding my family's burial ground. The excerpt is from a letter written in 1957 by Anne Ellen Coxen, sister of Thomas Frederick Rice (my great-grandfather). Please excuse the length--I wasn't sure which details would best help. Thanks to all in advance.
“I will try to describe the old burial ground, it is called Ford (?), and it is top of a small mountain. All the neighbors go to a funeral, certain ones are selected to go up and open a particular grave. They have to be in line, by descent or relatives. There are no paths on this rugged cemetery, one just steps on up and down over rises or boulders. But there are some flat places and these are spacious and five families of Rices have buried there.
Our grave is a large one and five families bury in our grave. I knew them all, half are cousins and distant cousins all around Bellurgan Point. But what amazed me on my first visit there, it was Uncle Peter’s funeral, it was so high up, no carts could come to the last few hundred feet. We had to leave the carts and horses and walk up. And when we reach the top, there are no real paths, we follow the footsteps of all who have gone before us.
And each family knows where their own plot is. On our grave there is old slate stone. The writing on it is nearly worn away, next to us +over there is a large family + one of their boys is Owen Rice, oldest son and a school master. I'm told we came from the same family tree, but so far back that it was lost. They didn't bury in our grave, but quite near, on the next level piece of ground. He told me the first name on the old slate slab was Owen Rice of Bellurgan and a lot more detail.
North of Bellurgan lie the Cooley Mountains.
There are quite a few graveyards in this area, I have been in some of them, but the details in the letter do not seem familiar to me. I will look at some on the Ordnance Survey historical maps (osi.ie) and try to assist.
There's a death notice in the Irish Independent dated May 28 1942 that states:
At Bellurgan Point, Dundalk, Owen Rice ex National Teacher; deeply regretted by his loving brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. RIP. Funeral today(Saturday) from Bellurgan Church to Faughart Cemetery 3 o'clock.
Is that related?
That definitely looks like it. It is about a mile north of junction 18 of the M1 / N1, Dublin - Belfast road.
What virtually proves it is that the 100 metre contour line surrounds the church area, indicating a hill.
Rice Mix I live in Dundalk and know the Cooley peninsula very well. You can PM me if you like and I'll give you as much assistance as I'm able, no problem.
Thanks mod9maple! Yes, It should be in county Louth, near Dundalk where the family lived.
Wyldwood and tabbey: I too thought my great-aunt might have meant Faughart, and checked their excellent website. They list the inscriptions on many graves, including a William Patrick Rice 1845-1907 and a Patrick Rice, 1829-1899. But the dates just don't match what I have for the Rice family. For example, the Peter Rice mentioned in the letter was born in 1845, not 1829. His father, William Patrick Rice , lived from 1805-1861, not 1845-1907.
His wife was Sarah (Sally) Keenan Rice and she lived from 1810-1902, and is described as "a girl from around the mountain not too far from the coast" with "golden hair, dark blue eyes, and lovely red round checks."
Faughart and Ford sound alike, so I think the letter writer only heard the name and wrote it down as Ford - she put a question mark so she wasn't sure of the spelling. From the descriptions of the graveyard it sounds like Faughart is the right spot. It's up a hill, old graves etc. I wouldn't get hung up on dates on headstones - sometimes the headstone is erected many years after the death, so whoever put up the headstone probably got the dates wrong; it's also possible that an error in transcription occurred.
Interesting article here on Faughart hill & cemetery including maps and photos http://bit.ly/2oIsvXR
Impressive detective work!
There's a Tripadvisor page for the hill/graveyard too, with more photos
PM sent; happy to help. When I'm home in a couple of weeks from abroad I'll cycle up and have a look around. From my place Faughart is about 20 mins by bike.
Could be one of these. When I'm home I'll go up and have a scout around.
Do you happen to know any of these cousins' names? One headstone has both Rice and Feede* on it. Anyway there's great detail in that description vis-a-vis the location so if I find the teacher's grave the other won't be too far off.
*D-uh! It just struck me. That's a name alright but more likely that of a local mountain rather than a surname.
and here's a detailed report on the conservation of the graveyard with lots of nice photos http://bit.ly/2oQGiIM
OP try Rootschat.com for Ireland, County Louth and you will get some other local historical, family and graveyard (possibly gravestone readings) information. Its an invaluable free resource
Just because certain ancestors are not recorded on a list of gravestone inscriptions, does not necessarily mean that they are not buried in a particular graveyard.
Many people, indeed most during the 19th century,never got a headstone. Stones that were erected could have fractured, fallen on their faces, have become unreadable due to shallow inscription, or be so dirty that they can only be read in ideal conditions.
As has also been said, dates can be very wrong, even when monuments are erected soon after death, relatives may not know the age of the deceased, never mind when they are done a generation after the event.
Christian Corlett always recommended spring and autumn for reading inscriptions, so now is the best time and tomorrow is expected to be sunny. Hopefully we will get the opportunity.