Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:29 am

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Mount St Lawrence cemetery is 16 acres in size. Originally, it formed part of the larger medieval parish of St Lawrence in the South Liberties of Limerick. The Parish also included a leper hospital on grounds granted by King John, which later reverted to Limerick Corporation. Some of this land was then leased by Limerick Corporation to Limerick Diocese for use as a burial ground.

In the 1840’s new burial grounds were needed in Limerick. Mount St Lawrence Cemetery was officially opened on 29 March 1849 in a ceremony presided over by Dr John Ryan, Bishop of Limerick.

Mount St Lawrence graveyard was the primary place of burial in Limerick City for all strata of society since its opening in 1849 from the wealthy and influential to those who died in the Lunatic Asylum and the workhouse. An extension to Mount St Lawrence was opened in 1960 and a new burial ground, Mount St Oliver, was opened in 1978.

The burial records begin in March 1855. Few burials seem to have taken place in the early years possibly because people were reluctant to bury the deceased so far from the existing city graveyards. The Burial Register now records that over 70,000 individuals have been interred in Mount St Lawrence between 1855 and 2009. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher.

The Republican Plot contains the graves of over twenty men and women who were involved in the struggle for political independence and with the republican tradition, including former Mayors of Limerick Michael O’Callaghan and George Clancy, who were both killed by British security forces on 7 March 1921. Sean South was buried in this plot in 1957 and Kate O’ Callaghan, who had been elected to the Dáil in 1922-1923, was buried here with her husband in 1961.

The neo-Gothic Church c.1855 was designed as a mortuary chapel by local architects M and S Hennessy, who also designed the spire of St. John’s Cathedral. It was designed in Celtic and Gothic Revival styles with an Arts and Crafts influenced interior.

Source: Brochure showing Map of Mount St Lawrence (pdf)


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Mount St Lawrence Burial Ground Registers 1855-2008

The records of Mount St Lawrence Cemetery provide a unique insight on the history of Limerick and its citizens for the period 1855-2008. The records contain the names, addresses at time of death, ages, position of the grave and dates of death of all those buried in the cemetery. This information makes them an invaluable resource for those conducting genealogical research on the Limerick area.

The records also offer a unique tool for those conducting research into the social history of Limerick and mortality rates for all ages in Limerick city and its environs for over 150 years. The address of the deceased gives an indication of the footfall of various institutions including Barrington’s Hospital and St Johns Hospital and is invaluable in the case of Limerick Union Workhouse whose admissions records are no longer available. This feature of the records also reflects the political and consequently geographical changes which took place in the city of Limerick, for example the renaming of the streets over time.
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:35 am

I remember reading an account of Jim Kemmy’s funeral (1997) in the national press, which drew people from all corners of Ireland to it. It was remarked by some as to how sad it was to see Limericks old prominent cemetery in such a poor run-down state.

The City Council has renewed the pathways within the cemetery and its recent placement of information stones coupled with its online burial register makes it a very interesting place to visit.

The cemetery needs green landscaping by planting a couple hundred trees or so but probably lacks free space to do so. Maintenance of family graves is an issue that has to be solved especially when no existing relatives are left to care for them.

Thus the city council has no choice but spray weed-killer to keep vegetation in check. This results in giving the cemetery its run-down look. I wonder if railings, kerbings around the individual graves were removed to make it possible for open green lawns like those in the new Mount St. Oliver?

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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:58 pm

The neo-Gothic Church c.1855 was designed as a mortuary chapel by local architects M and S Hennessy, who also designed the spire of St. John’s Cathedral. It was designed in Celtic and Gothic Revival styles with an Arts and Crafts influenced interior.


I never saw this church actually opened for use as a mortuary chapel.

Sadly the slated roof has been recently replaced by a crude metal sheeted one and the building is now used for storage / maintenance workshop purposes. :(

Someone must have once proposed to convert its use into a crematorium because if memory serves me right the late Bishop Newman vehemently opposed the idea?

It would certainly be a very worthwhile project for conservation and have it re-opened to visitors of the cemetery.

This image from the National Library must have been taken well before 1900, as there is so much open space to the rear of the chapel to be seen. http://www.nli.ie
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:45 pm

Mother’s shock at cemetery find (Limerick Post)

Written by Rebekah Commane

A LOCAL woman was left distraught after she visited the graveside of a relative at Mount St Lawrence Cemetery last weekend.

The woman was with her 10-year-old son and both were horrified to find human bones lying on top of a number of graves. She brought him to assist with research for a school project on the famine.

“At first we thought they were animal bones, but there were jaw bones with teeth still in them that could only have been human,” the woman, still in shock, told the Limerick Post. “There were also hip bones, a femur and other remains that looked like fingers.

“My son was fascinated but I found it spooky.

I couldn’t believe the bones would just be lying around like that. It seemed so disrespectful to the dead”.The Limerick Post visited the graveyard and saw the bones, just as they had been described.

The most disturbing sight was part of a skull sitting in the middle of an old plot. There were three molar teeth still attached to the jaw bone.On top another grave sat a bone with a prominent joint, which once would have been attached to a hip or shoulder socket.

A local undertaker told the Limerick Post that it is known for bones to have been unearthed in the opening of graves, but “they are usually buried again”.

Cemeteries superintendent Flan Haskett said he couldn’t comment on whether the bones were human or not, or how they would have got there, and that he would need to see the remains in question.


A timely story for Halloween from the post.

Cemeteries superintendent Flan Haskett said he couldn’t comment on whether the bones were human or not, or how they would have got there, and that he would need to see the remains in question.


Hmmm bones . . . . . there are at least 70.000 people buried there. I suppose we should leave our pet dogs at home till Flan sorts this out. :rolleyes:
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:26 pm

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Step in making city cemetery a tourist attraction (Limerick Leader)

By Nick Rabbitts

Plans to turn the Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery into a tourist attraction are gathering pace, with a new guidebook expected to be released later this year.

Members of the city council’s environment committee this week saw local historian Dr Matthew Potter of Mary Immaculate College outlining plans – costing €10,000 – to provide information panels and guidebooks to the graveyard.

Opened in 1849 by Bishop of Limerick, many famous Limerick people are buried in the graveyard, including former mayors Michael O’Callaghan and George Clancy.

The Bard of Thomond Michael Hogan was also laid to rest there, as were more recently the former Limerick Leader journalist Seamus O Cinneide and Labour man Jim Kemmy.

One of the largest open spaces in Limerick, the 16-acre site has been administered by the City Council since 1969.

Dr. Potter said it is envisaged Mount St. Lawrence could become a tourist attraction, in the same manner Glasnevin Cemetery is in Dublin.

Plans mooted for the graveyard include a social history of Limerick, the art and architecture of the chapel and the monuments there, as well as details of the landscape, flora and fauna which are there.

Dr Potter added that at the moment, in conjunction with Limerick city Council, he is trying to digitise the records of the cemetery, as well as carrying out photography of the headstones for a large archive.

Interviews will also be conducted with staff employed at the graveyard both past and present, and the relatives of those who are deceased.

A guidebook is expected by late this year, and this will be followed by searchable databases, and then a major book, Dr Potter told the meeting.

Members welcomed the proposals. But Independent councillor John Gilligan said the “elephant in the room” is the condition of the neo-Gothic chapel in the graveyard.

“What is going to be done about it? Are we to hope that it goes away. It is going to have to be looked at some stage. We have to spend some money on it” he said.

Fianna Fail councillor Kieren O’Hanlon predicted the chapel will be of interest to people both home and abroad, and praised Dr Potter for doing “a great job with limited resources.”

Cllr. Maurice Quinlivan, of Sinn Fein, added: “This can be a major tourist attraction. Whenever I go abroad, I will always meet people who tell me how they want to see the graves of the diaspora.”

Former councillor Sean Griffin, who sits as a sectoral interest on the environment committee added: “It is fascinating to contemplate what this will look like. I am very grateful that this is happening.”


A searchable database indexed on grave plots or family names would be very welcome.

I spent weeks going through the online burial register collecting data on just one family grave.

Restoring the chapel should be a top priority and could be used as a place of remembrance.

The 16-acre burial ground needs a greener landscape i.e. plant more trees where possible.

Mount St Lawrence Burial Ground Registers 1855-2008
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby bjg » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:41 pm

The "graves of the diaspora"? If they've dias(a)ppeared, wouldn't they be buried in foreignlandia? bjg
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:04 pm

He meant their ancestral graves . . . . like those of mine and my kids.
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby bjg » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:31 pm

Why do you have a grave? bjg
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby CologneMike » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:10 pm

I don’t personally own a grave in Mount St. Lawrence but we do visit the graves of my great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles when we get home.
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Re: Mount St Lawrence Cemetery

Postby bjg » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:30 pm

Once all the info is digitised, I presume nobody will need to visit graves any more. bjg
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