Military Graves

Kilkenny Military Heritage and Graves Project


Many of the grave memorials throughout County Kilkenny are to men and women who served in various armed forces and took part in actions, events and campaigns in Ireland and abroad.  As we enter a decade of commemoration in Irish and European history Kilkenny County Council has collaborated with the military historians in Stephens Barracks Museum and with Historic Graves  to survey and publish grave memorials with a military heritage association in the county.

Directed by the Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council, the Kilkenny Military Heritage and Graves Project aims to remember our forbearers, help others to find and visit their graves and to consider the meaning of events through which people lived and sometimes died. The project forms part of a long engagement between Kilkenny County Council, local communities and their historic graveyards.

Grave memorials relating to a range of military heritage events were encountered:

  • 1798 Rising
  • American Civil War
  • Napoleonic Era
  • Papal Army in 1860s
  • Boer War
  • United Irishmen
  • World War I
  • War of Independence
  • Civil War
  • World War II
  • Peacetime Military personnel

The project includes transcriptions and photographs of 95 grave memorials, and audio recordings of some of the inscriptions and stories of related military events.  Graveyards visited were evenly distributed throughout the county.  The results of the project are available at the Historic Graves website – Kilkenny Military Heritage and Graves Project.  The Historic Graves website and survey methodology was designed and built by Eachtra Archaeological Projects.

The project identified a number of remarkable elements – some of which are of national or international significance:

Kilkenny City

  • St. Canice’s Cathedral has one of the richest collections of military related memorials in Ireland and Britain.
  • From a military heritage perspective St Johns graveyard, John Street Kilkenny is a fascinating 19th century resource.
  • The graveyards of the city and its immediate hinterland contain grave memorials of the landlord and industrial owner classes for whom military service was a core element of their identity.  As a result the upper classes appear to be proportionately over-represented in the data record in this area.

South Kilkenny

  • Rathpatrick graveyard has a very unusual assemblage of early 18th century headstones, carved on atypical stones in an atypical manner.  It also has coastal and urban trade associations due to its proximity to Waterford city.
  • Glenmore graveyard has an excellent preservation of headstones and symmetrical sidestones.  Due to this preservation this site changed perceptions of some grave memorials throughout the country; what had previously been interpreted as relocated footstones can now be identified as in situ sidestones.
  • South Kilkenny appears to have experienced keen competition between monumental sculptors from Kilkenny city and Waterford city.  As a result a fascinating mix of grave memorials was encountered.