Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wexford Road Trip - finding Ballybrennan graveyard

To recap... I spent a couple of hours at Wexford County library where I was delighted to find two articles about the family of Jeremiah Fitzhenry of Boro Hill (written by members of the Wexford Historical Society) and a book about Templeludigan in which I found some Fitzhenry priests.
The main article about Jeremiah Fitzhenry said that he was "buried in Ballybrennan (Bree) graveyard. An iron railing surrounds his grave...around him lie his kinsmen, the Fitzhenrys of Ballymackessy, Rathurtin and Gobbinstown"

We found Bree on the map and away we went up the R730 from Wexford to Kiltealy. The road off this to Bree was a single track road leading to the small village. The church had a very neat and compact graveyard - and no Fitzhenrys. The new cemetery a few hundred yards down the road was too new to have the grave we were looking for. Andy rolled his eyes in disbelief as he could sense another fruitless search (he's put up with a few of them over the years....). Luckily the people in the village shop knew exactly where we were looking for and sent us off down another single track road... back onto the R730, only a bit further north from where we had turned off it in the first place.

So Ballybrennan graveyard perhaps once had a church - there's certainly a ruined something in the middle of it - but it stands in glorious isolation to one side of the the main road. It doesn't seem like it's had a recent interrment and the only way in seemed to be a set of stone steps leading up to a gap in the wall through the hedge. The graveyard was surrounded by open county and was gloriously full of rabbits - in fact rabbitty burrowings seemed to have been the cause of a lot of gravestone subsidence. Some of the earliest headstones were from the early 18th century and the carvings on them were quite primitive looking with depictions of the crucifixion, the tree of life and the sun.

As there's not space to put all of the photos here in the blog, you can find them here in my Picasa webalbum by clicking on the photo below:
Ballybrennan graveyard.
The light wasn't brilliant for showing the words on grey granite covered in lichen, but I hope they give you a feel of the stones.

The small collection of Fitzhenry graves does merit a picture here on the blog. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I've annotated the stones with who they belonged to. As described, Jeremiah's grave was one of the few in the graveyard with railings around it although the rest of his family had no such ornamentation.

Coming up the next couple of postings - the gravestone transcriptions.

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