The Irish Famine was the greatest tragedy in Irish History. Between 1845 and 1848 about a million people died. Many of these people are buried in unmarked graves. These pictures depict one of these graveyards at Killally, Ardee Road Dundalk.
It’s worth a visit to the Dundalk Famine Graveyard during the current lockdown if you haven't visited it already. Located on the Ardee road (Eircode A91E76N) is the resting place for over 4000 souls who died between 1850 and 1955. Many of those who died in the workhouse in that period are buried in the graveyard with the last internment taking place in 1900. The famine graveyard at the workhouse became full and Thomas Fortesque required land for another graveyard. Mr McEvoy of Killally House sold the 1 acre of land to Mr Forestque for £20.
There are no headstones in the graveyard, only marker stones marking graves, on which the famine graveyard committee members have erected white crosses. The work that the famine graveyard committee do is all voluntary. They completed the restoration of the graveyard wall surrounding the graveyard in 2020.
For a time the graveyard was well maintained, even though there were no headstones or any symbols depicting the burial plots of the men, women and children, or individual families. Over the century since the last burial the graveyard fell into neglect, with vegetation destroying the neat stone walls that surrounded the site, and the grass area in the centre became badly overgrown.
For years there were suggestions that efforts should be made to reclaim the graveyard from the steady march of nature, but it was not until 2000 that a group of local people took the initiative. They were motived by the thought that the people buried there were neglected in death, just as they had been neglected in life. They believed that some dignity should be shown to these victims of the Great Famine by erecting a modest and appropriate memorial on the site. Over the last 20 years they have restored the stone walls round the graveyard, and the grass surface that covers the graves. In so doing they have renewed interest in the people buried there and the circumstances under which they lived.
They have also ensured that a memorial service is held annually, and hopefully over the years access to the site, which is currently difficult enough, can be improved with better surfaces and signage. All of this has been done on a voluntary basis by dedicated people living in the area and to whom we all should be grateful. You can access the graveyard from Behind Macardle's Brewery, A91E76N or on the Ardee road across from Mount Hamilton Hoarding through the gate on left side of the road.
If you would like to donate to help the volunteers with their ongoing work to maintain this graveyard you can donate at this link: Dundalk Famine Graveyard Restoration Project