Clare County Library
Clare Genealogy

Donated Material: Graveyard Inscriptions

Old Ballysheen Graveyard, Sixmilebridge: Transcription Project


The Clare Roots Society

In its ongoing activity of recording gravestone inscriptions in Clare, the Society undertook the work in Old Ballysheen Cemetery, Sixmilebridge in May 2010. A group of volunteers came forward:

• Eric & Breda Shaw
• Michael McNamara

Michael McNamara generously gave of his time and skills honed from many years of transcribing gravestone inscriptions for the Sliabh Aughty Magazine.

Based on the experiences of the Society in undertaking similar work in Drumcliff, Killone, Clare Abbey and other local cemeteries, an agreed template for recording the inscriptions was decided upon and work commenced. The Society produced a map showing that there were about 170 graves to be recorded and photographed.

The ruins of an old Church and burying ground called Ballysheen Church stand in the townland of Sooreeny. The Church is about sixty feet long and twenty one feet wide, the walls perfect except a breach in the north wall near the west gable. There is a window in the west gable but it is so covered with ivy that its form could not be ascertained. The structure is in a very weakened state of repair, with a part of the east wall having collapsed in recent times. It urgently needs to be stabilised.

There is a pointed doorway in the south side, twelve feet from the west gable. There are two semi-circular headed windows in the same side nearer the east gable, built up of cut brown grit stone and much out of character with the wall in which they are placed, they appearing older. The window in the east gable cannot be seen, it having been filled up with mason work and covered with ivy. Parts of the wall near the breach in the north side, the lower part of west gable and the part of the south wall between that gable and the doorway, appear to be much older than the rest.

There can be little doubt that this is the Kilfeenaghta (Kilfinaghta) from which the Parish takes its name. It occupies the identical spot on which the Church of Kilfeenaghta is set down on Petty’s Map. How its name happened to be forgotten and changed to Ballysheen Church nobody now can tell. Though this Church is set down in the Name Book as situated in the Townland of Sooreeny the parishioners believe it to be in the Townland of Ballysheen, from which it has its name.

Old Ballysheen cemetery is well maintained. Some 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 date from the 1730s. A small number of stones should be reinstated to preserve them. 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 over the cemetery are rough stones marking the graves of deceased persons. 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 Ballysheen Graveyard, Sixmilebridge