The beautiful grounds of Dysart Ancient Graveyard do truly reflect its antiquity, its focal point being the church which was first mentioned on this site in 1306 in the ecclesiastical taxation of Elphin (where it is listed as Disert). There are several place-names in Ireland that contain the Irish ‘Dísert’, not surprising considering its translation as hermitage or wilderness, many of these places are associated with reclusive monks. The lands at Dysart were granted by Rory O’Conor to the abbey of St Mary’s in Dublin before 1236 and the Cistercians of St Mary’s held the land until the mid 15th century. Much of the church was constructed over that period up until the 16th century and at ones stage it appears the west end of the church was altered into a house! This is evidenced by the insertion of cross-wall and the addition of a garderobe on the north wall, the pointed doorway in the west wall would more than likely have been inserted during this phase of its existence. Visible burials in the graveyard date back to 1715 however the number of smaller marker stones indicate the much earlier burials. Many of the burials would be connected to the families of O’Conor and Fallon. There are two attractive stone carvings at Dysart, one in the church and the more exquisite stone on the exterior gable wall, it depicts carvings of ships, swords, lions and fish. It was hard to make out the inscription on this stone on the day of my visit but according to an entry into the Duchas Schools Collection of the 1930s, the visible section of the script reads ‘Manus Fortis’ which means ‘The Strong Hand‘.
GPS: 53.45801, -8.17718