Drinagh West Graveyard in West Cork


Drinagh West is a beautiful medieval graveyard that overlooks Curraghlicky lake outside Drinagh village, north of Skibbereen.

This graveyard at Drinagh was once the site of late medieval church which was in use up to the early 1800s, however, nothing remains of it today. The tower ruin that can still be seen today is from a later Church of Ireland church built in 1818.

The ruin that remains at Drinagh old graveyard is referred to locally as ‘the steeple’.

This Drinagh graveyard has been in use for several centuries and contains numerous Roman Catholic burials in unmarked graves, with the earliest inscription dating to 1843 with just one grave believed to be a Church of Ireland burial.

There was also a watch-house at this Drinagh graveyard, which was located in the left hand corner as you enter the site. Watch houses were small simple structures, once commonly found in graveyards, that were used to prevent bodysnatching. At one time cadavers could be sold to anatomy schools so relatives kept guard in these watch houses until the bodies of their loved ones were no longer fresh enough for the surgeons to use.

This is an 1847 sketch of a watch-house in the Old Chapel Yard graveyard in Skibbereen. The one at Drinagh would have been of similar design.

The sign at Drinagh lists all the names of those known to be buried in this medieval graveyard. In the photo (l-r): Barry McMahon, co-ordinator of the project; Margaret Murphy, Skibbereen Heritage Centre, who carried out the survey of Drinagh graveyard and Terri Kearney, Skibbereen Heritage Centre, project manager.

© Skibbereen Heritage Centre

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