Stephen Clancy a Junior Cert student in Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh tells of the graveyard which lay hidden for years under what would become his secondary school on Sir Harry’s Mall.
The Forgotten Graveyard
Sir Harry’s Mall
Hello my name is Stephen Clancy and I have been asked to write about the bodies found in Sir Harry’s Mall in April 2005. I am currently in Third Year at the school directly above the old cemetery thus fuelling my interest in the topic.
I can remember going to see the bodies with my mother during the excavation. Being an archaeological site we were only able to get photos from above the site. After a while one of the archaeologists offered to take pictures of the bodies for us. I can remember visiting the dig as it was interesting seeing the skeletons. I am not upset by skeletons but I still remember it quite clearly and maintain vivid memories of the excavation. One of the bodies lay on the ground with his arms by his side and half of his skull was missing. Another had their hands placed on their stomach and when you looked at their face he appeared to be screaming. When I was there I saw part of the Limerick wall, the wall was huge about 6 foot wide and about 12 foot tall, however during the time of the dig only the bottom of the wall remained..
The cemetery is now buried under Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh an all Irish school that I am currently attending. in the back of the school they have a metal line that shows where the wall stood. In first year we were taught about the bodies that lay under our feet. However I doubt that anyone in my class or the majority of the GCL staff know the reason why the bodies were buried there in the first place.
The bodies found were actually cholera victims who were buried on the other side of the Limerick wall to avoid infecting other people who lived nearby. It is reasonable to believe that they were buried in unmarked graves as there is no record of any markers above the graves, leading me to believe that they did not receive a religious burial.
The cemetery is not one of a kind however as right by my school underneath St. Mary’s Girls National School lies another graveyard. Limerick’s Life discovered the graveyard by studying the old limerick maps. Limerick’s Life was searching for the graveyard as a result of finding mention of it in the burial registers. The graveyard belonged to the Society of Friends more commonly known as the Quakers.
No doubt there are probably countless other cemeteries yet to be discovered in Limerick.
Hi, I was very interested in your post. My Grandmother and mother were raised on Sir. Harry’s Mall. I recall when that cemetery was uncovered, however, we had heard it was a Norman era cemetery and that the bodies were removed for study. My parents happened to be home at the time it was being excavated. We too have many photographs of the excavations.
Thanks for the update, always interesting to get information on what happened in the past.