Blackwater ancient graveyard re-visited

CLLR OLIVER WALSH and his daughter RUBY at the entrance to Killila Graveyard, near Blackwater.

By Dan Walsh

Killila Graveyard is the site of a medieval parish church dedicated to St. Brigid and closed for a considerable time, but it is teeming with history and heritage, and local Cllr Oliver Walsh has requested Wexford County Council to lend a hand with clearing some of the overgrowth and assisting with the preservation of the ancient site.

Cllr Walsh raised the matter at the February meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council.

Speaking to WexfordLocal.com and taking us on a tour of the graveyard last Tuesday, Cllr Walsh said; “There are lots of these old graveyards and it is important that they be maintained to a certain standard. I accept they are not going to be kept immaculately, but here in Blackwater we have a local historical group who did quite an extensive work on this graveyard here at Killily and are willing to do it again.

“Thankfully, Wexford County Council do provide a grant to different areas to do a bit of work on graveyards and Blackwater Historical Society will be looking for that grant,” added Cllr Walsh.

Located close to Blackwater village, Killila is without any trace of its church that once served the old parishes of Kilesk, Balyvaldon and Ballyvaloo, but is dominated by an unusual ‘beehive like tomb’, the entrance is blocked off and a small marble plaque over the entrance on the west end records ‘Talbot and Ffrench’. The Talbot family were related to the Earl of Shrewsbury.

It is one of the unmarked resting places of the victims of the American registered emigrant ship Pomona shipwreck off the Wexford coast two days after setting sail on April 28th 1859. Most of the over 400 passengers were lost and a memorial to the Pomona was unveiled some years ago in Blackwater village.

A headstone to A. Richie is a feature of the ancient burial ground at Killila. It is recorded that it was reserved for several unidentified bodies of sailors and many are interred there having been washed ashore at Ballyconnigar Upper and Lower, Ballyvalood and Balyvaldon.

CLLR OLIVER WALSH and his daughter RUBY at the entrance to the Talbot tomb in Killila Graveyard pointing out the plaque to ‘Talbot and Ffrench’.

Many wrecks occurred on the Blackwater Bank with fatal losses of crew and it was in this plot they were buried. Richie (1916) would have been the last of the seafaring men washed up on Ballyconnigar beach and buried at Killila.

Richie lies beneath a British War Office standard 1914-1918 war memorial. The crest is an anchor with rope entwined around the shank, and the inscription reads; A. Richie, deckhand, Barbara Cowie, 4th October 1916, aged 50.”

The oldest grave belongs to Richard Geoghegan who died March 15th 1758, John Murphy (age 26) died on May 29th 1798 and it is believed that he was a native of the Unyoke and was killed in the Rebellion of 1798.

With St Brigid’s Day becoming a national holiday from next year many associations with St. Brigid may regain an importance and the community in Blackwater may be able to take tourism advantage?

AUDIO ADDITION – CLLR OLIVER WALSH speaking with DAN WALSH at Killila Graveyard.

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