Online plotting at Kilcock cemetery

A new sign has been put up at Kilcock cemetery, mapping and providing information about each burial plot.

A new sign has been put up at Kilcock cemetery, mapping and providing information about each burial plot.

This information can also be accessed online, with accompanying photos of each headstone. The service will be of huge benefit for anyone looking to find out about local genealogy.

The mapping work was carried out by Irish Graveyard Surveyors, a private firm based in Castlebar, Co Mayo, which was founded in 2007.

Managing director Michael Durkan told the Leinster Leader: “In late 2006 I was working as a funeral director and there were so many people coming and asking for information. So with the local priest we decided to set up this service.”

IGS has surveyed around 200 graveyards so far, though not all of those are up on the website yet. Most of those surveyed so far are in the west and north-west of the country but they are expanding as parishes in other parts of the country become aware of their work.

Kilcock is Kildare’s first parish to have invited IGS to survey its graveyard but others may soon follow. “It’s up to parishes to invite us to do it,” said Michael. “We’ve had conversations with a few other [Kildare parishes] about doing them.”

The service appears to be finding success. “Last year the website got 1.4 million hits. We have about 36 graveyards ahead of us at the moment.”

The surveying process takes two to four weeks from start to finish, depending on the size of the graveyard. The process involves the numbering and mapping of each grave, using a combination of GPS and eye mapping. A digital map is compiled showing the number of each grave.

The map is then placed on a sign, alongside a list of names in alphabetical order. The surname, first name, address, month and year of death and age at time of death are all listed, alongside the plot number. This information is all available at the IGS website with a photo of the corresponding headstone.

A draft of the sign is displayed in the parish with correction sheets provided so that parishioners can provide information on unmarked graves and plots where names are not displayed on tombstones. A stainless steel sign is erected at each graveyard at a location agreed by the IGS, Parish Priest and the local authority.

“It’s a free service for people using the website,” explained Michael. “We make our money through advertising on the website and there is a small charge to the parishes.”

IGS has been approached by a number of Americans asking them to survey graveyards so they can learn more about their Irish roots. According to Michael, after surveying one particular graveyard at the request of an American, IGS received a cheque for $1500.

“The service is intended for housebound people or people who are away in America or wherever so that they can see where family members are buried. It’s the only genealogical survey of this type that is freely available.”

- Liam Godinho