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Rules, Rubrics and Relations

The corpus


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Some 181 gravestones were recorded from the graveyard of Killora, with directly dated examples ranged from 1619 to 1987. At Killogilleen 119 grave markers were recorded, ranging in date from 1654 to 1995. Of these 300 gravestones a portion were removed from the data set, generally because they did not contain an extant or legible date sufficient to categorise them by decade. As the survival rate of the earliest gravestones is somewhat sporadic, three further stones which date to before the 1740s were not included.2 Finally, three gravestones were not included as they all date to the 1990s. This is because, although burials continue at both sites, the function of Killora has been largely superseded by the use of a new cemetery in Craughwell. Thus, stones of that decade have been excluded as they may lead to a bias in the sample. In total, some 55 gravestones were excluded, leaving a corpus of 245 grave markers on which the following analyses are based.

 

The first problem to be addressed in assembling the data set was to accurately assess the decade of construction of the marker stones. The major caveat in this procedure was the frequent delay in the erection of the gravestone after the initial burial. The reasons for this may be manifold, including financial, though more frequently it is one of engineering, in ensuring that the earth has sufficiently settled after inhumation to prevent the stone sinking or toppling forward.3 In the most favourable circumstances, the gravestone may include a date of erection below the commemorative text. There are 14 recorded instances (6%) of such an erection date, spanning the period from 1795 to 1865. While one stone bears the same date for both erection and the primary memorial, the average hiatus is 9.43 years with a maximum gap of 23 years (see Grogan 1998; Smith 1993, 80).

 

More frequently, the date of gravestone construction was deduced from the primary inscription. This process was made somewhat simpler in that a substantial proportion of gravestones (37%, 90 cases) commemorated only a single individual. As the majority of stones commemorate more than one person, the estimation as to their decade of construction was made on the analysis of differing carving techniques in the script and on the order of commemoration. Although it is obvious from the foregoing that many stones may date from a significant period after the date of the primary memorial, it was decided not to arbitrarily re-date all other stones purely on this basis.

 

 

[2] Ka. (Killora) 18 (1619), Kn. (Killogilleen) 114 (1654) & Ka. 8 (1701). The 1740s represent the earliest terminus of the unbroken sequence for the two graveyards.

 

[3] Longfield (1974, 9) notes a potential delaying factor in waiting for a peripatetic monumental sculptor to visit, while Grogan (1998, 43) adds the consideration of the time required to commission and prepare the gravestone.

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