Local Historian Enda Galligan conducted a social history tour of Coolshannagh Municipal Graveyard on Friday for Heritage Week.
Coolshannagh meaning Hill of the Fox, is located on the outskirts of Monaghan town, close to St. Davnet’s Hospital and the site of the original Railway station.
The great and the good are interred there, including the matron of the nearby Workhouse, an antiquarian and the author of a book on European Butterflies, and some well-known medical doctors.
The graveyard was originally divided into sections for the established church (Church of Ireland), the dissenters (Presbyterians) and Roman Catholics and then also in half for towns people and country people.
Herbalist Anne Bleakley, originally from County Down and a biomedical scientist presented a talk in Carrickmacross Library on Friday evening on traditional cures and charms. To a packed house, she explained how traditionally this was accessible medicine for everyone where money never changed hands. Anne is currently working on documenting as many cures as possible. The cures generally went to those who were most disadvantaged in society, such as the seventh son of the seventh son, or a widow. Blacksmiths were also believed to have cures because of the magical transformations they could create through melting, forging and working with iron. Cures have generally two parts – the actual medicine, plant or placing on of a snail or sheep’s wool for example, and secondly the prayer or the incantation which must be learned by heart and for this reason are not often recorded. The words would have originally been pagan, but now are usually christian prayers.
Shirley Clerkin, Heritage Officer said “Cures hold an intangible and indigenous knowledge about the medicinal characteristics of many of our plant species, and even microbes and minerals in water that we’ve forgotten. They demonstrate the importance of our biodiversity for medicine in the past and indeed in the future. Universal access to medicine is expressed in how the cure was given anyone who asked, as a real societal good.”
Photos from left to right:
-Heritage tour group pictured at Coolshannagh graveyard.
-Enda Galligan describing how the graveyard was originally laid out at Coolshannagh.
-Anne Blakely presenting her research on traditional cures and charms in Carrickmacross Library for Heritage Week.