Tydavnet Old Graveyard is home to some of the most beautiful and highly decorated 17th and 18th century headstones in Ireland. What makes this graveyard unusual is the sheer amount of Momento Mori or Mortality Stones, these stones were meant to jar the viewer into acknowledgement of their own eventual fate and also to encourage people to improve their behaviour in this life. These decorative motifs on display in Tydavnet include skull and cross-bones, the hourglass, coffin and bell motifs.
A pre-reformation church, dedicated to St Domhnait once stood in the graveyard but no trace of it remains. It can be surmised that due to the placement of the 17th and 18th century graves that the church had almost completely disappeared by the late 17th century. The earliest surviving memorial in the graveyard was erected to John Foster who died in 1677. The memorial consists of a highly decorated slab of stone that lies over the entrance to a stone built vault. At one point several years ago one of the corners of the vault collapsed and exposed the interior of the small rectangular chamber. A short flight of steps led to this barrel vaulted chamber which contained the remains of about twenty individuals.
Many other headstones in the graveyard contain emblems and heraldic crests, there are also stones that display tradesmen’s tools, a memorial to Terence Clemence from 1782 suggest he was a cobbler as the headstone is decorated by pliers and the image of an ankle boot. The graveyard stopped accepting burials by 1910. a new graveyard stands adjacent to old Tydavnet.
“Now dier wife my life is past
My love to you so long did last.
Now for me no sorrow take
But love my children for my sake”
– Gravestone inscription of John Corrigan 1830
GPS: 54.29608, -7.01636