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Leckpatrick Old Graveyard

A Catholic Plot?


It is clear that Leckpatrick graveyard was used for a considerable period by the various religious denominations from a wide area and Catholic burials seem to have continued up until about 1840, when burials were allowed at their own cemeteries. Most of the identifiable Catholic burials are in one section of the graveyard and it is possible that the cemetery had reserved burial plots for the various denominations. The early Maghee burials were likely to have been Catholic since the David Maghee who claimed Holyhill in 1655 was described as a Papist in the Civil Survey. Many of the unmarked or unidentifiable graves are also likely to have been those of Catholics since their lowly civil and economic status would have precluded their families erecting costly memorials. There are, however, a number of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century memorials that can with a fair degree of certainty be identified as those of Catholics, many with the distinctive IHS symbol engraved on the marker stones.


Family names like McCormick, Donaghey, McConaghey and McShane are still widespread in the Glenmornan part of the parish and oral tradition tells of ancestors buried in the old graveyard at Leckpatrick. Most of the memorials are contiguous to each other and the inscriptions suggest a period of late eighteenth and the early decades of the nineteenth century. There are no recorded Catholic burials after 1840 and other family members appear to have been buried in the new Catholic cemeteries at Cloughcor or Glenmornan. Thus there is the single inscription for Sarah McConaghey who died in 1817 at the age of 26, but no mention of parents or other family members buried there. The same can be said for Patrick McShane who died in 1828 aged 63 and Patrick Ward, recorded as having died in 1822 at the age of 26. It is surely surprising that no further family burials are recorded on the gravestones, suggesting that Leckpatrick was no longer seen as a suitable burying centre.


These single burials can be contrasted to that of the McCormick family memorial where a number of family deaths are recorded, stretching from 1783 to 1833. This latter memorial is also distinctive in that the IHS symbol is enclosed within a type of sundial and a similar illustration appears on the McConaghey memorial. An almost identical symbol appears on a gravestone at nearby Cloughcor graveyard, suggesting a local link in the creation or erection of the memorials.

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