Archive for October, 2013

The Ground Under Our Feet: Lost Graveyards in Dublin
October 30, 2013

Posted by Mowl:

Some lovely photographs taken and captioned by Eamo, posted on

This is a view of Loughlinstown Hospital from the rear. That is where you will find one of the almost forgotten Cemeteries which are the resting place of un-named and un-numbered victims of the famine as well as the many souls who died in the poor-house which was in the building now occupied by the hospital. The paupers cemetery is not signposted but is easily accessed by driving into the carpark at the rear of the hospital and looking out for a grassy path winding away into blackberry bushes and trees.

Follow that way and after a short walk it opens onto a beautiful glade, you will almost certainly be the only living soul there but the place is so peaceful that it feels comfortable safe and warm.

The cemetery is well cared for but is thankfully not manicured until soulless. It is a sheltered open empty grassy space.

On a similar topic: recently, the organisation behind the community association for Ballyfermot neighbourhood has started asking questions as to who it was in Dublin County Council who gave the go-ahead for the unceremonious removal of numerous hundreds of year-old graves at the site of the former Ballyfermot Castle and cemetery, on Le Fanu Road out in Ballyfermot west, now long gone.

It’s said locally that the castle, which dated back to the seventeenth century, and its cemetery close by were deliberately allowed to fall into ruin, and it was also said by those apparently in the know that the construction of a more modern building would serve the commercial interests of the area far better. A pub stands on the spot where once stood a beautiful stone castle, the old heart of the neighbourhood.

So they destroyed the castle and gave us a pub.

I recall as a child many stories of grave-robbers and other scavengers associated with the site at the cemetery, but I also remember playing on the enormous burial mound when the gravestones were still standing. All were in a severely dilapidated condition, and some had caved in completely. We’d often wonder as little kids if we dug a bit would we find bones and skulls? Maybe even buried treasure?

It was a beautiful spot, many headstones read dates back to the early eighteenth and late seventeenth century, but as time went on it became a fly-tipping spot, and everybody dumped their household cráp there. Old prams, mattresses, cookers, and what have you. A short few years later, the entire area was bulldozed. No removal of remains, no ceremony, no remembrance stone. Just an industrial excavation of the whole site. Nobody now knows where the wasted remains were taken after bulldozing, or what happened to them, but it was all replaced with the estate now present as Cloverhill.  A rough enough place for any child who was reared there throughout the seventies and eighties. A miserable sprawl of concrete/metal houses that looked like they might blow over in a strong gale. No amenities, no central area to orientate the locals and give a neighbourhood feeling. Most if not all of those original houses were replaced since, because they were built to such appalling standards, and the people were herded in like sheep before the project was even completed. Not many years later they’d all be marched back out again when the entire project was demolished to build the sturdier houses which stand there now.

I also remember playing on the building site of Cloverhill. It was an adventure playground for us, traipsing through the brick skeletons of the houses as they were being constructed, but the skeletons and dust of the former occupants didn’t seem to have any meaning for either the local church or the county council. Any sign of the cemetery was erased from existence.

In a way, the photo of the mass grave above at Loughlinstown gives me a similiar chill of disgust at our inelegance, savagery, and in particular, the church’s hypocritical lack of respect for its precious flock. That so many bodies from the famine are remembered by just one stone out in the cemetery in Loughlinstown, and that the only name on the stone is the Sister who apparently dedicated it, reminds me of the same self-inflatable and triple-faced church which did so little to protect the remains of those buried next to Ballyfermot Castle. In fact, there is no marker there at all to indicate that they were ever buried there. Only a social welfare office.

So they took away the graveyard and gave us a dole office.

Where once was a castle, a place of much local history and pride, there’s a pub. Where once was a cemetery, of similiar historical value and pride, is now a labour exchange.

There’s still a long way to go in having the pertinent questions about the cemetery at Ballyfermot answered by either the church or the county council, and as usual one suspects no-one will be held accountable. One suspects that somebody somewhere made a suitcase full of used cash from it, and that whatever chances there are of having any kind of inquiry these days would instead be arranged in such a way as to line the pockets of another generation of the same legal elite, rather than show some goddamned respect to the people of the area and their historical legacy.

The site of the cemetery as it stands now:

An older map of the area as it was before Cloverhill was constructed:

Mowl  29th October 2013

The Suppression of Nationalist / Republican Councils in the Six Counties
October 8, 2013

In 1920 25 councils in the six counties were controlled by nationalists, some of which had voted allegiance to the Dáil. Needless to say the unionists were not pleased, especially with the prospect of the boundary commission, so they set about fixing things. Control over the councils was due to be passed to Stormont on 21st December 1921. When Tyrone CC informed Stormont that they would not recognise Stormont and that their allegiance was to the Dáil the RIC seized their offices and their documents.

Stormont then passed an act (Local Govt, Emergency Powers Bill) which permitted:

“the Ministry, in the event of any of the local authorities refusing to function or refusing to carry out the duties imposed on them under the Local Government Acts, can dissolve such authority and in its place appoint a Commission to carry on the duties of such authority” – Dawson Bates

Fermanagh CC passed the following motion on 21st December 1921;

“We, the County Council of Fermanagh, in view of the expressed desire of a large majority of people in this country, do not recognize the partition parliament in Belfast and do hereby direct our secretary to hold no further communications with either Belfast or British local governments, and we pledge our allegiance to Dáil Eireann”

The RIC seized their offices, sacked officials and the County Council was dissolved and replaced by Commissioners. Armagh, Keady and Newry Urban Councils, Downpatrick Town Commissioners, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Lisnaskea, Strabane, Magherafelt, and Newry 1 & 2 Rural Councils as well as some Boards of Poor Law Guardians were all similarly dissolved and replaced by commissioners by April 1922. Derry remained.

To permanently deal with the problem, for the following local elections, PR was abolished, and all councilors were obliged to swear an oath to the crown. Our friend Dawson Bates then appointed Sir John Leech as the man to redraw boundaries, which he did at a rapid pace often giving locals only one week to make submissions – nationalists tended to boycott this absurdity. The plan worked excellently – after the 1924 local elections only 2 of the eighty councils were nationalist. Gerrymandering went on, Armagh Urban Council (Nationalist) was dissolved in 1934 and was only set back up again in 1946 with new wards and a unionist majority. Over these years Derry was re-jigged on a number of occasions.

Votes were also limited to rate payers, which was worse on catholics. However in 1945 the new Labour government in Britain abolished this restricted franchise and granted universal suffrage – Stormont managed to be excluded from this and they actually went further with their own Representation of the People Bill 1946 and disenfranchised more people by taking votes away from lodgers, who again were disproportionately catholic given the shortage of housing and Unionist control of how houses were allocated. Companies were also given multiple votes, depending on their value – up to six votes to be cast by the company’s directors. The Unionist government were not even subtle about it, their Chief Whip Major L.E Curran stated it was ;

“to prevent Nationalists getting control of the three border counties and Derry City… The best way to prevent the overthrow of the government by the people who have no stake in the country and had not the welfare of the people of Ulster at heart was to disenfranchise them”

Gerrymandering continued right up until 1967 when the local councils in Fermanagh were all amalgamated into one which despite being a majority nationalist county, was dominated by Unionists to the tune of 36 seats to 17.

Councils were very powerful, as well as allocating houses they were major employers. Unionist control ensured jobs for the boys, school bus drivers, manual laborers etc.

Most of what I know is from Michael Farrell’s “Northern Ireland, The Orange State” but I would like to know more, in particular about what councils did in an attempt to prevent this and what they did during the war of independence and before they were all dissolved. A good topic for a thesis I reckon.

Saoirse go Deo  8 October 2013

Wonder Walls
October 6, 2013

While wondering around the rather run-down area of Vila Madalena, I bumped into this. When I went I was told it that it was a work in progress, but halted because the artist fell off her ladder (it’s on the pavement.) She had just started turning an air vent into a bleeding tree. Nobody will touch this, even her bowl of red paint will stay where it is until she gets back to it. This mural is apparently inspired by a fairly recent event of some developers “convincing” indigenous people that it was in their best interest to move on so that the forest could be cut back to facilitate new a new construction. The internet cafe where I am now is minding the drawings this woman is using as a basis for this mural.  Fascinating stuff!

Yesterday, one of the kids my daughter works with took me an area just of Rua Gonçalo Afonso, in a very run-down part of Vila Madalena, and my eyes popped. You turn a corner and literally walk from the high-rise jungle into what is nothing short of a different universe.It is simply unbelievable. This is literally an open air, practical art college. You want to start saving up for a visit Eamo… The area is surrounded by the madness of this incredible insanity called Sao Paolo, but refuses to give in to it. And it creates its own madness as a anti-dote. What an anti-dote it is!
The boy, who thinks (!) he is 14, lives in one of the shacks in these alley ways. Most people in the area are simply trying to survive until tomorrow, and it is a fertile recruiting ground for the notorious drug gangs. Simon proudly told me that he and the other street artists don’t need drugs. Painting the streets is his drug. Powerful stuff, this paint!   The boss willing, I’ll be posting a few pics from here over the next few days. Be prepared. Just an overall impression of one of the alley ways. Simon squats in one of the derilict flats behind the red wall on the right. He’s lucky he says, he has a tree blocking out most of high rise building on the other side. He hates them, claims they drive people insane…

One of the most impressive walls is this one, which is the side wall of what once was a furniture maker’s workshop. The whole building has been turned into a kaleidscope of brilliant madness

And this is how you make the metal sliding door a little less boring….



Ephilant   7  October 2013


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