An examination of the frequency and popularity of the most common introductory memorial phrases or rubrics was also carried out. The invocation ‘Pray for the soul of’ first appears in the 1750s, disappearing in the following decade before rising in popularity until the 1790s (Fig. 4). After this time the popularity of the rubric declines, with only a minor resurgence in the period from the 1860s to the 1920s. It is also obvious that the rubric ‘Sacred heart of Jesus have mercy on the soul of’ enjoys its major period of popularity from 1900 to 1920. Similarly, the use of ‘Sacred to the memory of’ also displays a well-defined span of popularity from the 1860s to the 1900s.
Conversely, the utilisation of ‘Erected by’, though falling during the 1840s, shows sustained levels of popularity from the 1770s to the 1960s. The use of this rubric is of particular interest as it, by implication, commemorates less the deceased in favour of the individual responsible for commissioning the memorial. It was also observed that the rubric ‘Lord have mercy on the soul of’ occurs on gravestones during the 1790s, reaching its apogee during the 1840s after which it declines, disappearing after the 1920s. Finally, the distribution of the rubric ‘In loving memory’ first appears in Killora and Killogilleen during the 1870s with a gradual increase over the next century to complete dominance during the 1980s.
Figure 4. Line chart of rubrics: ‘Pray for the soul of’ vs. ‘Sacred heart of Jesus have mercy on the soul of’.