Travelling west, about a kilometre outside of Castletownbere, there is a small road on the right (across from the football pitch) with a sign that reads,” Cill Achadh an Eanaigh, Glebe Graveyard.” This by way meanders a couple of hundred years into the past until it reaches the Glebe Cemetery. Some of the inhabitants of this little graveyard have been interred there since the 1700’s.
Next door to the cemetery is the old rectory which is privately owned. It was once home to the remarkable Standish O’Grady. The small gate to the cemetery is what you seek; going through the ivy clad entrance truly is like going back in time.
The place is cool, peaceful, and overgrown in places with trailing ivy and winding creepers. Some of the grave markers are so old they are little more than plain stones resting their worn heads on the green grass.
There are so many names: Murphy, O’Sullivan, Burchill, Sullivan, Mealy, Fitzgerald, Sheehan…so many more. Many of the surnames are those of local families who continue to live and thrive in Castletownbere as they have for generations before them, and hopefully with blessings well into the future.
Sadly there are names here that have been lost to time. The most poignant being those who were taken by the Great Famine. Just beyond the overgrown church ruins, on the north-west wall of the cemetery is a mass grave for famine victims. It’s heartbreaking to think of countless number of people who lived and loved on this beautiful peninsula, only to be buried anonymously due to overwhelming tragedy.
The Glebe Graveyard is a lovely, peaceful little place and well worth the visit, especially if you are seeking a connection to your roots when you come to visit Beara. Do take a moment to pause at the mass grave to let those buried there know they may have died anonymously, but have not been forgotten.