Rathbran Cemetery and Cillín, Wicklow, Ireland

I stumbled across this place the same day I visited Baltinglass Abbey. I have since tried to find out any information I could about it but to no avail. Although the graveyard still appears to be in limited use in a couple of corners the rest of it appears to be a Cillín. I have to say Cillíní are some of the most eerie places I have been, more so than your average graveyard. Cillíní hold a truly tragic place in the history of Ireland, it is immeasurable both in the numbers of people buried in these places and the level of grief and untold sorrow that these places hold. Cillíní were a burial grounds, some originally pagan, co-opted by communities as unconsecrated burial grounds for children unbaptised at the time of death, also victims of suicide or any undesirables that were not deemed ‘fit’ to be buried in the church grounds ended up in these places. They are dotted throughout the countryside and usually only become apparent to a passer-by because of small monuments erected to try and highlight the tragic burials that took place. As I walked around this graveyard, the earth was incredibly soft and formed into mounds. There is a few blocks that look like the were the basis for a structure at some point, a stone stands in the middle of the graveyard with the inscription ‘In Memory of the Little Children who rest here’. Its interesting – and struck me as rather poignant – to note that a ‘Jubilee 2000’ obelisk that stands near the gate of the cemetery was built 2 years before the stone commemoration of the unconsecrated burials that happened there.

GPS: 52.98129, -6.70957

3 thoughts on “Rathbran Cemetery and Cillín, Wicklow, Ireland

  1. A cemetery is a burial ground without a church while a graveyard has or had a church on site. Some cemeteries may have mortuary chapels. Sometimes irish graveyards have modern cemetery extensions.
    Great site and I really like the use of google maps.

    • Thanks John to be honest I was never fully aware of that distinction between a cemetery and a graveyard, must change the one or two mentions of cemetery/graveyard on the site now to make them correct, thanks for the heads up.
      In regards google maps I live for the thing! Just back from three days all around sligo/donegal/tyrone checking out neolithic/megalithic tombs and it yet again proved to be the best damn aid in thw world, hence my willingness to link all sites I check out to a map. There truly is nothing worse than knowing you are within miles of some site but can’t find it because the directions/co-ordinates were too vague.

  2. Cillins (I am a mere English person so use an English plural) are, indeed, moving places. The one I know is near Claddaghduff in County Galway. I was first there in 1971 (on honeymoon – Oh yes, I could show a wife a good time looking at a mystery cemetery!). It is completely unmarked, except there are clearly small graves marked out with stones. People tell me it is filled with children starved in the potato famine.We revisited in 2011, celebrating 40 years of marriage. It is still unmarked but there.
    I have photos on my personal blog at http://www.locksands.wordpress.com if you want to see it. And can I suggest that when you can you get out to County Galway!


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