BOYS and girls from Caherconlish National school took a break from their classrooms to study the old graveyard in the village this week.
The Caherconlish graveyard committee invited the school to take part in the Historic Graves project and they jumped at the chance said principal, Saundra Ni Chiosoig.
The national project digitally records and publishes historic graveyard surveys and stories. Over two days fourth, fifth and sixth class pupils armed with carbon paper, sponges, mirrors and torches visited the cemetery to record the inscriptions and dates on the headstones.
“Some of them found ancestors of theirs buried in the graveyard without realising beforehand. It gave them an even bigger incentive to discover more about their own family tree. The project incorporated Maths, History, English, Archaeology - knowledge they never would have got from a book” said Ms Ni Chiosoig.
Local church records only start in 1846 but they found people who were born in the mid 1600s.
“This information that the children discovered will be invaluable for people all around the world filling in their family trees and may bring visitors back to Caherconlish and help tourism in Limerick,” said one of the Caherconlish Graveyard Committee, who have transformed the cemetery from being one of the worst kept in County Limerick to one of the best in recent years.
The burial site is on the grounds of a church ruin in the village’s Main Street. One of the gables of the church was built in the early 13th century, then several buildings were attached to it. The steeple was built in the 1780s. Following the Reformation the church was restored in the 1680s and became the Protestant church.
The site is steeped in history but thanks to the school children they have unlocked a treasure chest of information.
They managed to read even the most faded headstones using mirrors and sun or LED light to create a shadow in the inscription. Over 160 headstones were recorded and as on average each one has four or five names that is over 700.
The graveyard committee wished to thank the school children, Ms Ni Chiosaig, Amanda Slattery from Ballyhoura and John Tierney of the Historic Graves project.