Sunday, 21 February 2021

Creating a Virtual Graveyard

Genealogists always want to know where their ancestors are buried. It’s not just to see what they might learn from their gravesites. It’s more than that. It’s a need to connect with them, to know they’re ‘at peace’. I realise maybe not everyone feels this way. Maybe even most people don’t. My husband doesn't. He said I was ‘morbid’ when I said I was creating a 'virtual graveyard' linking all my ancestors' graves. But we should honour their memory. Without them, there'd be no us. Plus, I’ve spent many countless hours seeking out their final resting places – I don’t want them forgotten again.

Here’s my first memorial – for my great-great-grandfather, Maurice Carroll. He was buried at St Colmcille's RC Graveyard, in Swords, Co. Dublin.

Maurice Carroll
Birth: c. 1838
Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Death:6 January 1906 (aged abt. 68 years)
RDF Asylum, Dublin, Ireland
Burial: 9 January 1906
St Colmcille's RC Graveyard

Chapel Lane, Swords, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Link to: Memorial at Find A Grave

Headstone of Maurice and Anne Carroll, St Colmcille's, Swords

This was the gravesite in the summer of 2011. It was in a sorry state, obviously no longer being cared for. The inscription was more or less illegible then too.

Headstone inscription:
"Of our charity pray for the repose of the souls of Maurice Carroll who died 6th Jan. 1906. And his beloved wife Anne who died 23rd Dec. 1918."
Luckily, in 1989, the Fingal Heritage Group transcribed the gravestones in St Colmcille's Graveyard, capturing this inscription before it succumbed to the weather.

Funeral announcement:
Freeman's Journal, 8 January 1906, p. 1

Links to memorials of immediate family members:
Spouse 1: Mary Anne (Frazer) Carroll (c. 1828-1868, m. 1859)
Spouse 2: Anne (Radcliffe) Carroll (1849-1918, m. 1869)
Son: Robert Carroll (1860-1942)Son: James Carroll (1865-1943)
Daughter: Mary Carroll (1871-1941Daughter: Anne (Carroll) Singleton (1875-1926)
Son: John Carroll (1878-1941)Daughter: Teresa (Carroll) Wynne (1888-1958)
Father: David CarrollMother: Catherine Cummins
Brother: Thomas O'Carroll (c. 1837-1918) Sister: Mary Carroll (b. 1841)
Brother: David Carroll (b. 1847)

These links are to each family member's memorial at Find A Grave, an online collection of gravesites and memorials from around the world. They will be replaced with a link to their memorial in the Virtual Graveyard at Black Raven Genealogy, when one has been created. It's my intention to also create a memorial for them at Find A Grave too, whenever possible, and to update the links here, as I go.

I’d been wondering how to preserve this information and how to present it here at Black Raven Genealogy. Then recently, Marian at Climbing My Family Tree wrote  about her intention to create a 'virtual cemetery' for her ancestors, using the tools at Find A Grave. I've already created some memorials at Find A Grave, but I wanted to create an independent collection too. Marian's post gave me this idea.

The aim is to create a memorial for each of my direct ancestors. In addition to what is set out above, I'd like to include their photograph, a photograph of the graveyard, if they have no headstone, and maybe a picture of their Memorial Card, if I have one. I'll also include a copy of the burial register and the plot number of their physical gravesite, where available. There'll be an index too, of sorts, showing how we're related. Please say, if you can think of anything else to make the memorials better.

I've created a category 'Theme: Virtual Graveyard', as seen on the right. This will act as the cemetery gate. Clicking on this, you will enter my graveyard. You'll be able to visit each of the graves, irrespective of where in the world they are physically located. Maybe you'd like to leave some flowers - virtually speaking - in the comments?
                🎕🎕🎕🎕🎕🎕 (You could copy and paste these, if you like).😉

There's an 'A to Z Blogging Challenge' held in April that involves writing 26 blog posts, in 26 days, with 26 (or as many as I can manage) letters of the alphabet, and one post dedicated to each letter. The goal is to create a memorial for one ancestor on each day of the challenge. So, if I start preparing now, maybe I'll accomplish it.


  1. Rest in Peace Granda Carroll 🎕🎕🎕

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Colleen, have to give credit to Marian for helping me shape the idea.

  3. Dara, your virtual graveyard is so elegant and adds a lot for descendants to explore. Thinking about adapting your idea and adding an ancestor landing page to my blog for the virtual graveyard! TY.

    1. Thanks Marian, I also think it's a good idea to have a second source, independent of Ancestry, as well as maintaining the information on Find A Grave.

  4. Interesting new project, Dara. Using the "A to Z Blogging Challenge" should get you off to a good start.

    1. Thanks Cathy, you're right, I'll probably get most of my mother's side done, if I can keep it up.

  5. This is a terrific idea and I haven't decided on a theme for my A to Z for April yet. I may go with this. You and Marion may have started a trend!
    For March, I want to feature a different woman ancestor each day for Women's History Month. That worked well for me in 2020.

  6. Thank you Virginia, that would be great, I might get some new ideas from your posts. And I'll look out for your female ancestor poss in March. Good luck with them. Neat idea.

  7. Dara this is a fantastic idea and very creative. Your descendants will discover a treasure trove of their ancestry. Oh to have such detail of our family tree from our would answer a lot of questions I have today particularly on unknown cousins. Only for you and your blog I would never have known about your Wynnes and their close relationship with their cousins i.e
    my Tuckers. Looking forward to your new project.

    1. Thanks Caroline, yes, maybe my nephews, or their children, will be interested one day.

  8. Wonderful idea Dara! Interesting they requested US papers to copy. There must have been family on my side of the ocean.

    1. Thanks Ellie, yes, I wonder who was in the US at the time. Such tantalizing little clues they leave behind!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!