Clare County Library
Clare Genealogy

Donated Material: Graveyard Inscriptions
Old Clarehill Graveyard, Clarecastle:
Transcription Project by Eric Shaw

The Clare Roots Society

In its ongoing activity of recording gravestone inscriptions in Clare, the Society undertook the work in Old Clare Hill Cemetery, Clarecastle in the Summer of 2009. A group of volunteers came forward:

Larry Brennan
Nicky Brennan
Michael Falvey
Eric & Breda Shaw
Frank & Kathleen Barry
Olive Paradis

Based on the experiences of the Society in undertaking similar work in Killone & Clare Abbey, an agreed template for recording the inscriptions was decided upon and work commenced. A map showing the approximate location of each grave was drawn up and it showed that there were over 170 graves to be recorded and photographed.

There is no evidence that a Church or Monastery ever existed at Clare Hill but in the 1940s a holy-water fount was discovered buried in the ground there. The gravestones date from the 1740s.

This cemetery is very well maintained and only one broken headstone was noted. It is hoped that this stone can be repaired. Many fine examples of stone-cutting were found particularly on the recumbent tombstones, with ornate decoration and lettering. Most of the stones were of local limestone and over the years, this stone has been attacked by white lichen. This made some of the letters difficult to decipher and some unusual surnames were discovered. The volunteers gave second opinions to each other on the interpretation of the wordings and some of the volunteers went back again and again to view the lettering in different lighting conditions.

That work has now been completed and it is hoped that the findings will be of interest to the local community and to genealogists locally and much further afield. Scattered all over the cemetery are about 65 rough stones marking the graves of deceased persons. Perhaps locals might come forward with some of the family names attached to those markers. About a dozen grave-stone were found of English soldiers or their families who had died while stationed at the Barracks in Clarecastle in the mid-1800s. A number of inscriptions appear to refer to seamen who died as their ships were in the Port of Clare and who found a last resting place in Clare Hill. During the cholera outbreak in June and July 1832, about 100 people died and are buried in the lower part of the cemetery in unmarked graves. But there are a number of named gravestones of further victims of that cholera epidemic, primarily that of Fr. O’Brien and of Surgeon James Read of the 68th Regiment Light Infantry.

Clare Roots Society wishes to record its gratitude to those volunteers who undertook the work.

The correct copying of inscriptions from old gravestones is fraught with difficulties. It is inevitable that mistakes will occur. While every effort has been made to record the individual gravestones as accurately as possible, Clare Roots Society wishes to apologise to any individual or family whose family records are recorded in error. Should any family or individual become aware of errors to these records, please contact

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Old Clarehill Graveyard, Clarecastle