A Graveyard with Character

I’m back in Dublin for a few days. With the blessing of the graves just around the corner, I went with my Dad to water the flowers on our family plot. The graveyard has always intrigued me.

According to local folklore, an underground tunnel connects Dunsoghly Castle (which I’ve previously mentioned here) with the former church that lies in ruins in the graveyard.

Dunsoghly Castle (beside my parents' house)
Dunsoghly Castle (beside my parents’ house)

Folklore aside, the charm of this old graveyard appeals to me. A broken pathway, crossing over a local farm, reminds visitors that they are in the countryside. Partial ruins are visible.  It is the first indication that the graveyard which lies ahead is of an older generation:

Entrance to St Margaret's Graveyard, St Margaret's Village, Co Dublin.
Entrance to St Margaret’s Graveyard, St Margaret’s Village, Co Dublin.

At first glance, the graveyard seems to blur into the rolling fields that surround it:


There is no obvious planning to the layout: no perfectly neat rows of headstones, edging that marks out every grave or neatly-cut grass. Headstones rest at odd angles, and graves are also nestled in the ruins of an old church. But this higgledy-piggedly appearance gives the graveyard a sense of character not found in the newer, more uniform cemeteries.


Marble headstones dot the landscape, but they are the exception. It is the multitude of granite headstones that reveal the age of the graveyard (which is now full, apart from those family plots which still have some space). In contrast to the newer marble markers, the engravings on the granite headstones are mostly illegible, worn away with the passage of time. That granite is a hard rock, which is eroded by the weather slowly, the condition of these headstones further points to the maturity of the graveyard.



As the number of living descendants dwindles and weather-induced erosion continues, it will be a shame to see these monuments to the dead, testaments of former lives, disappear into the landscape.

worn and damaged headstones
worn and damaged headstones



Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.

6 thoughts on “A Graveyard with Character

      1. Hi Ciara,

        just saw your comments and am afraid that I have some disappointing news regarding that legendary tunnel. A geophysical survey was carried out by the OPW about 3 years ago which revealed that no evidence of this tunnel exists, despite local lore and legend.
        I have mentioned this in my book on Dunbsoghly castle and would love to send you a copy if you let me know where to send it.
        The graveyard is indeed fascinating, for me specially the Plunkett family burial chantry, where no surviving evidence exists to indicate that this was a private burial place for a very high ranking family of the nobility, including several Chief Justices and military men, one of whom died at the siege of Derry.
        And to think all this exists just up the road from Dublin City centre!
        my e-mail is below if you would like to get in touch about Dunsoghly Castle



      2. Hi Eddie, Yes I know the tunnel doesn’t exist — but I suspect it will forever remain part of local folklore. I’d love to have a read of your book, and I think my Dad, who also grew up in the area, would enjoy it, too. Will drop you an email shortly with a postal address. Thanks!

      3. Youre more than welcome. Just let me know where to send it
        Kind regards

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