St. Patrick`s churchyard.
St.Patrick`s church was built in 1853 and the people of the Sixtowns have been burying their dead in the adjoining graveyard ever since. The oldest headstone in the graveyard belongs to the Connolly family of Moyard. According to local tradition the people buried in somewhat in a local geographical pattern. The people of the upper end of the Sixtowns tended to bury their dead in the upper half of the graveyard nearest the front door of the chapel. The Tullybrick and Owenreagh people buried theirs at the lower end next to the road.
Most of the headstones are in the upper half of the graveyard and these are the only means of locating where any person may have been buried. The church kept no records of where anyone was buried and this is most regrettable with the lower end consisting of a patchwork of unmarked graves lying higgledy pigelty with neither head or tail on where any grave lies.When the graveyard was being shaped up for the centenary celebrations in 1957, the workers just shaped the surface of the ground into what looked like well planned graves when in fact the opposite was the case. This gave a misleading appearance which exists until this very day. Although it helps the appearance of the place, we must not make the mistake of assuming that that is where the graves lie. In the days of greater enlightenment in the church, still borne or children who died were buried in the hedge next to where the Community Centre now stands. Whatever reasons the church had for doing this, only they can explain but thankfully it is no more. It is one aspect of the graveyard which people are reluctant to talk about.
There used to be a row of tall trees along the side next to the road but these were deemed to be diseased and dangerous and were removed for the centenary celebrations. There used to be a tiolet at the bottom corner of the graveyard but this too was removed during a later renovation of the church. There was a beech hedge along the top and down to the gate but it also was replaced by a low wall ,around this time as well.
As the spaces began to run out around the end of the 1960`s more ground was made available on the left hand side of the drive up to the chapel. It is now full and the extra bit of ground at the rear of the chapel is also filling up fast. One aspect of the modern day grave is the fact that they are all marked with expensive marble gravestones. This will be of considerable help for anyone searching for dead relatives in the future.
There are sadly no traces of the Irish language on any headstone in the Sixtowns and this is probably indicative of the speed of the loss of the language even in the mid 1850`s.There are three old table shaped headstones which coincidently bear the same surname ….. Bradley. One was erected in memory of a father and mother by a son who lived in Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This symbolizes the traditional habits of the Irish emigrant sending money home to pay for things which could not be afforded by the ones at home as well as the family pride aspect. Were these three unique gravestones bought at the same time ?.Were the three families closely related or were there members of each family living closely together in Pennsylvania?
There is very little else of note in this graveyard and you can see a map and list of gravestones in St. Patrick`s Church, Sixtowns on the pages that follow.
(Some graves are marked with an * which indicates that the person buried there is known but other details are missing.)