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New details on 18th century grave uncovered during shopping centre construction

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EXCLUSIVE

By Sean Moriarty

Some fascinating new information has come to light on the grave uncovered during the construction of the new Aldi store on Park Road.

INSCRIPTION: Researchers were able to decipher some but not all of the inscription

MAPS: An old map show the potential location of the original grave and and its current location

UNCOVERED: The grave at Aldi as it was found during construction

PRESS CUTTING: How the Killarney Advertiser reported the discovered grave

PROTECTED: Mayor Marie Moloney and Padraig Barry of Aldi at the protected grave outside a Killarney shopping centre

Last week, the Killarney Advertiser revealed that an ancient grave was discovered during the construction phase of the new store.

Aldi have preserved the grave, which is dated from the 1800s, and have placed a protection railing around it.

It is the company’s intention to place an information lectern on the railing so local people will be able to learn about the history of the unusual find.

Aldi employed the services of Cork-based archaeology firm John Cronin and Associates and the Killarney Advertiser was given exclusive access to the report.

The report was prepared by Peter Looney of John Cronin & Associates, with assistance from Ita O’Brien, Andras Hindli and John Cronin.

UNCOVERED

The stone was found in its current location, but within a disused barn, during the early site clearance works in November 2018 and the scene was preserved until Cronin and Associates examined it in greater detail.

“The slab was lying face down on the surface of the rubble layer and consists of a single block of limestone carved and shaped into an elongated six-sized shield to resemble a coffin lid measuring max 2.2m long and max 0.95m wide,” says the report. “Five lines of text are carved on the right-hand side of the cross.”

Expert archaeologists were able to decipher some but not all of the text. It reads:

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF MARGARET SHEA
WHO DIED SPT_____________________
May She rest in peace Amen
ERECTED AS A MEMORIAL OF AFFECTION BY HER HUSBAND JEREMIAH SHEA.

“Shea is a frequent surname in County Kerry, and both Margaret and Jeremiah are also widespread. Without a date - which it is hoped may yet be deciphered -it may not be possible to identify exactly who the people named on the stone are,” says the report.

According to members of the Lyne family, the previous owners of the site, the grave slab belonged to their father and was in their possession until the turn of the century when its whereabouts became unknown.

Mr Tom Lyne – who used the barn adjacent to where the slab was uncovered before construction began - described growing up with the slab always within the courtyard of the family’s farmstead which would have extended into the current find spot.

“He indicated that the slab would have been standing against a boundary wall. It seems likely that slab was abandoned with the farmstead as it fell into disuse in the latter half of the 20th century, eventually falling over on its face (the position it was uncovered in) and its whereabouts becoming lost to the family. Thus, the grave-slab is most likely ex-situ having been brought to the area with the Lyne family around the 1900’s when the family farmstead was built adjacent to the southwest corner of the subject site,” adds the report.

It is believed the grave was originally located in a burial ground where the Lewis Road is now and that it may have been moved to its current location when that town centre road was being built.

RARE

“That area is now built up, mostly with residential properties. It can be assumed that many of the gravestones that were in the original Killarney Burial Ground were moved off-site and that may have been what happened to the subject stone, which then came into the possession of the Lyne family,” adds the report.

“Three local graveyards: Muckross Abbey, Killegy Lower and New Cemetery, Coolcorcoran, were visited in December 2020 to ascertain if there are any similar types of grave memorial. No stone of a similar shape was found in any of these three local graveyards.

“Only two examples were found to take a similar form: one of which was the same general shape as the example found at Ardshanavooly in Killarney. This stone, in the graveyard in Oola, County Limerick is also pointed at the top and bottom. This stone is very worn and only the initials ‘C B’ could be read. Therefore, despite the shared unusual shape, the stone at Oola cannot offer any clue towards the age of the Killarney stone.”

A second slab is at Abbeylands, County Waterford and is dated 1854.

“Once weather conditions allow, it is proposed to make a further attempt at deciphering the second line of the text inscription. This is the line that is likely to have a date inscribed and thereby add significantly to our knowledge of the history of the stone if it can be read. A rubbing was attempted in December 2020 but was unsuccessful as the surface of the stone was wet. When the stone is dry, it is likely that a rubbing will be more successful.”

FUTURE PLANS

Once all of the research work is complete a low-height lectern with an inclined tray will be placed adjacent to the presentation plinth to allow people to learn about the origins of the grave slab and reproduce the weathered inscription.

“The interpretative opportunity here is to encourage those interested to see if they can discern the inscription, and to reflect on the care and attention wrought on this memorial to a loved one and to consider how such an object found its way to this location,” concludes the report.

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Volunteers wanted for street collection

By Michelle Crean October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and local volunteers are keen to not only raise awareness but also funds. Kathrina Breen, Eleanor O’Doherty and Kathleen O’Shea who […]

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By Michelle Crean

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and local volunteers are keen to not only raise awareness but also funds.

Kathrina Breen, Eleanor O’Doherty and Kathleen O’Shea who have been supporting the Irish Cancer Society for many years are delighted to be able to get back to their Pink Ribbon street collection in Killarney town next Friday (October 7).

They are the only group in the country doing the collection as many fundraisers have moved online since the pandemic struck.

“We’re the only town in Ireland doing it this year,” Kathrina, who feels it’s important to keep a street collection going, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We haven’t done it in two years since before COVID. I pushed to do it as it raises a lot of money. People have been supporting this for years, this money goes towards breast detection equipment, information leaflets in doctors surgeries and towards cancer grants.”

In 2021, donations helped 254 breast cancer patients with free transport to and from 2,380 chemotherapy appointments by volunteer drivers, 154 patients received 514 nights of end-of-life care from Night Nurses and 3,430 enquiries were made about breast cancer through the Freephone Support Line 1800 200 700 and at 13 Daffodil Centres across the country.

And she added that they’re looking for a few volunteers to help out on the day.

“If anyone would like to help they can contact me on 087 2612992.”

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Calls for Council to acquire vacant Rock Road properties

By Sean Moriarty There are calls to make two vacant properties on Rock Road available to Kerry County Council’s housing inventory. The two cottages, one either side of the entrance […]

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By Sean Moriarty

There are calls to make two vacant properties on Rock Road available to Kerry County Council’s housing inventory.

The two cottages, one either side of the entrance to St Finan’s Hospital, are vacant for some time.
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae raised the issue at a recent Killarney Municipal District meeting.

“Regarding two vacant houses at the entrance to St Finan’s on Rock Road which appear to be vacant for a significant period of time. One of the properties is in the ownership of the HSE. I requested that Kerry County Council would liaise with the HSE with a view to potentially acquiring this house,” she told the Killarney Advertiser after the meeting.

“I stressed that it is important that the local authority exhaust all possibilities when it comes to providing more houses, particularly properties located within the town of Killarney where the need and demand for housing is critical.”

Kerry County Council said it would get the Vacant Homes Officer to contact the owner of the privately owned bungalow.

“They will inform the property owner that there is funding available under various schemes and grants to aid the return of this property to habitable use. Such schemes include the Repair and Lease Scheme and the recently launched Croí Cónaithe vacant property grant,” said a Council official.

Cllr Healy-Rae added: “I requested that KCC would liaise with the HSE with a view to potentially acquiring this house.”

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