Saturday, 15 November 2014

Abbey Graveyard at Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin

Anne (Sarsfield) Radcliffe (c.1799 – 1866), Malahide
Anne Radcliffe (c.1799 – 1866)
Interred, Abbey Graveyard, Malahide Castle

Many of my ancestors are, no doubt, buried in the Abbey Graveyard adjacent Malahide Castle.  There was never a sexton attached to the graveyard and the location of burial records, if indeed records were ever kept is unknown.  In 1877, the Talbots obtained a court order limiting the number of burials to eight in any one year. The graveyard is now closed completely and its gates are locked, so public access is difficult. However, I remember from my childhood that there were two headstones for my Radcliffe ancestors still standing there.  

Michael Egan transcribed the memorial inscriptions on the headstones in the graveyard and published them in his Memorials of the Dead, in 1996. My fourth-great-grandmother, Anne (Sarsfield) Radcliffe was interred there in 1866 and her son, my third-great-granduncle, Christopher Radcliffe followed in 1872.

Michael Egan’s transcription of Anne’s headstone reads:
‘IHS | Erected | by | Peter Radcliffe | of Malahide | in memory of his beloved wife | Anne, who departed this life | Decr 18th 1866 | Aged 67 years.’

Egan also describes the condition of her headstone, in the mid-1990s. It was made of limestone with a granite base, in good condition, but lying on its face. At the top, above the inscription, there was a Maltese cross on the IHS, with a ‘large sunburst’.

Christopher’s headstone was transcribed as:
‘Erected | by | Mrs. Mary Radcliffe, | of Malahide, | in memory of her beloved husband | Mr. Christopher Radcliffe, | who departed this life | on the 15th day of March 1872, | aged 31 years. | May he rest in peace. Amen. | Not gone from memory, nor from love, | But gone to our father's home above.’

Egan’s mid-1990s description of the condition of his headstone advises it was made of limestone and was in fair condition, but also fallen forward. Above the transcription was an ‘elaborate equal-armed cross’ and shamrocks.

Chances are that my fourth-great-grandfather, Peter Radcliffe, was also interred in the Abbey graveyard. He died on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1887, aged about 90 years. Even though his name was never added to the headstone, I’d like to think he shares a grave with his wife, Anne. He fought in the courts for the right to be buried with her, so it would certainly have meant a lot to him.

Source: Michael Egan, Memorials of the Dead, no. 9, 1996, p. 153.

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Dara, I have just been again reading your very interesting post about Peter Radcliffe and his fight to have his rights of burial respected. So unfair that it had to come to that. Although his name was not added to the stone, at the end of his life I do hope that Peter's rights were recognized and respected.

  2. Many thanks Jennifer, Peter was such a persistent man, I'd say he got his own way, in the end.

  3. I hope he got his wish Dara. It's interesting how Irish stones add "erected by". You never see that here in NY except on Irish graves occasionally. I saw it on my great grandmother's grave, "erected by her parents Philip & Mary Power" and assumed they were angry at her husband and wanted the world to know they paid for the stone, but maybe not...

    1. It was very common, Ellie. By mentioning their name, it also ‘immortalised’ the person who erected the stone, although, my grandfather merely added ‘erected by her loving husband’ to my grandmother’s stone.

  4. When doing Irish research in Counties Cavan & Tipperary I was told, more than once, that the Irish often could not afford tombstones. You are fortunate your family had a stone & that it was recorded.

    1. It's sadly true, Colleen, none that lasted through time anyway. Our Radcliffe tombstone is an exception. I suspect it was erected as part of the lawsuit, to help establish ‘ownership’ of the plot, when the Talbots threatened to close the graveyard.


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