6. Tombstone Inscriptions


Tombstone inscriptions are a rich resource for family history research as memorials can often contain the details of several generations of a family.  However, it is not until later in the 19th century that inscribed stones become more prevalent.  Indeed, many families could not afford a tombstone and often a burial was marked with a wooden cross or unmarked and it was usually the wealthier families who were inclined to erect memorials.

Cantwell’s Memorials of the Dead

Extract from Cantwell’s Memorials of the Dead: Kilcoole Cemetery. Tombstone inscriptions are arranged by cemetery and in alphabetical order and each volume has a surname index.

The most comprehensive collection of County Wicklow tombstone inscriptions was compiled in the 1970s by Mr. Brian Cantwell in his four volumes – Cantwell’s Memorials of the Dead.  These records can be accessed online at www.findmypast.ie .  The printed volumes are available (reference only) from the Wicklow Library Service.  A digitised version of the memorials is available on CD ROM from Eneclann.  (Please note Cantwell’s cut-off date was 1880 – he did not record any tombstones erected after this date – but if a stone erected before 1880 contained an inscription that was added later, Cantwell recorded this).  Cantwell’s contribution to our Wicklow heritage is immeasurable as he captured the information on many stones that have since perished due to the elements.

Online Resources

The Irish Genealogical Project has also done outstanding work on making many County Wicklow tombstone inscriptions and images available online.  There are also some Wicklow inscriptions available on Interment.net (mainly West Wicklow).

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