The children came back with a huge amount of new information about their locality. The following piece, recounting the information the children learned, was written by Clodagh, AJ, Ruby, Katie and Mia from Ms M Fox’s Class. A massive well done to the children for their excellent writing and to Ms McKeon for organising the trip
Stamullen Cemetery Tour with Brendan Matthews
It’s hard to believe there is so much history just down the road in the small Stamullen graveyard. On October 6th 2022, all 6th classes met community Historian Brendan Matthews to give us a tour of the cemetery and its history. “I went to the very same school as you and when I was around your age, I had a very nice teacher who loved history” Brendan said. “He brought us to the hill of Tara and to Newgrange.” Brendan explained how that teacher instilled a love of history in him.
This small cemetery is built on a round hill, overlooking what would have been the village at the time it was built (now a row of shops and apartments). It was the highest point in the village.
The oldest gravestone (that’s legible!) is from 1722 (300 years ago) but the church in the graveyard dates back to the 13th century. Before that there was another church, but it fell to ruins. He brought us into the church ruins and pointed out where the altar, benches and doors would have been. He showed us two slates from the now gone roof.
World famous artist Lady Elizabeth Butler lies in this cemetery. Elizabeth Thompson Butler was a British woman who specialised in painting soldiers who had come back from war. Her most famous painting is the Role Call and people from all over the world come to see her simple grave. Some of her paintings are currently hanging in Windsor Castle.
The three main Celtic crosses are signs of the rich and all belong to the Preston family (apart from Lady Butler). Nicholas Preston is the last remaining Lord Gormanston. The Lord Germanton’s lived in Gormanston Castle and were a rather wealthy family. The members of that family that lie here are:
Jenico Preston, William Preston, Eleanor (Dowdall) Preston. The first principal of Stamullen’s old school who taught children even before the famine.
The Crude Heads
On the south side are two crudely carved stone heads. Nobody knows if they weren’t finished or perhaps, they have worn away from the weather.
Beside the church is a tomb where all of the Lord Gormanston family are laid to rest. As you come into the room there is a monument carved from stone that features the decomposing remains of a young woman who died of the plague (Black Death). Did you know that the nursery rhyme of Ringa Ringa Rosie is the story of the Black Death. Rosie cheeks are a symptom of the plague, “a pocket full of posies” are herbs that you hold up to your nose to cure you (or so they thought), “a tissue a tissue, we all fall down,” symbolises death. Under this monument are stairs down to where all of the Lord’s rest. This tomb is dated back to around 1450. Only eleven of these tombs remain in Ireland and this one is thought to be the oldest.
Below it is another tomb that features William Preston and Eleanor Dowdall. On the side of that tomb, it shows a crest with several families represented. William is wearing one of the “White Armours” depicted in Ireland. On his right hip rests, a dagger. There was a sword, but it was broken off in an act of theft/vandalism. There is also a lion resting at his feet. Eleanor has a small dog resting at her feet and is wearing a gown and a veil.
All in all, the Cemetery in Stamullen is a very old and historic one, so if you have spare time, why don’t you stop by and have a look.
Ms. M. Fox, Ms. C. Fox, Mr. O’Neill, Ms. O. Duff and all of the 6th class children would like to thank Brendan Matthews for sharing all of his knowledge on Stamullen cemetery.