ACR Heritage … from then to now (part 2)


A clean up took place at Kilcolman Graveyard in 2013, involving members of ACR Heritage, and local people. Removal of scrub and undergrowth allowed partially hidden headstones and numerous grave markers to again fully see the light of day. Of concern were a number of trees growing close to the walls of the ruined medieval church, which, if left in situ, would inevitably result in structural damage. Protective measures were taken to ensure this ancient building would continue to stand, as it had for centuries.

On 30 June we headed to the townland of Rockgrove, where a talk was given at Aughariddera Bridge by ACR Heritage member Doug Lucey. This bridge stands at an old river crossing point known as ‘Áth Ridire’ (Knight’s Ford). The ‘Battle of Mullinhassig’ took place here in 1580, between the forces of Sir James Fitzgerald of Desmond and Sir Cormoke McTeige MacCarthy of Muskerry. Sir James ‘Sussex’ Fitzgerald was the youngest half-brother of Gerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, and was one of the leading figures of the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583), until his capture here on 4 August. The MacCarthys won the day, with the injured Sir James being  held as prisoner at nearby Carrigadrohid Castle and later Blarney Castle, before ultimately being taken to Cork, where he was executed a number of weeks later.

Kilcolman Church & Graveyard
Kilcolman church & graveyard

One of our biggest projects to date commenced in Coachford on 3 and 4 July, with the surveying of both Magourney and Christchurch graveyards. Training and professional assistance was provided by Eachtra Archaeological Projects, and made possible by funding received from West Cork Development Partnership. Field surveys of both graveyards took place, the results were digitised and later uploaded to the Historic Graves website, where they can be freely viewed today. Our website was also created in 2013, which has since expanded to contain numerous blogs; a slide show of local sites and places; details of sites and items within individual townlands; genealogical resources and information on our publications.

Next up was Heritage Week, which takes place annually, and 2013 saw us returning to Magourney and Christchurch for ‘Ghosts, Graves & Generals’. Anthony Greene treated the large attendance to talks on those interred in both of these local historic graveyards, to include Mary Laura Cross and the infamous Coachford poisoning case of 1887. In the latter part of 2013, we exchanged outdoor work for indoor pursuits, to include discussion of local heritage submissions to the draft Village Design Statements being compiled by Aghabullogue Coachford Rylane Community Council. Submissions were also made regarding local sites of interest for the ‘Heritage Bridges of County Cork’ publication by Cork County Council Heritage Unit. All in all, busy times, but 2014 would turn out to be just as, if not more busy, than 2013!


2014 saw us returning to Kilcolman graveyard, where the knowledge and skills gained from training provided by Eachtra Archaeological Projects were put to further good use. First came a field survey of this historic graveyard, and then digitisation and uploading of results to the Historic Graves website. Kilcolman was originally a separate parish, but was perpetually united by Order on 22 June 1728 to Magourney parish (Coachford area). The church ruins are in a good state of preservation, and the graveyard is now ‘landlocked’, with no burials for many decades. One of the notable burials at Kilcolman was local man and RIC Constable Patrick O’Connell, who was killed at Soloheadbeg, Tipperary in 1919, and who was an early casualty of the Irish War of Independence.

We continued to seek out the advantages of technology by creating a Facebook page in 2014, which since then has been used to post details of projects and events, and information of local interest. Genealogical resources on our website were also enhanced by a compiled A-Z surname spreadsheet of the Magourney Church of Ireland burial register (1758-1876).

From 14 – 20 July, we held a week long exhibition at Coachford Community House on the construction phase of the River Lee Hydroelectric scheme. This exhibition included an image gallery and narrated video. We also complied a DVD and published a booklet ‘The Flooding of the Lee Valley‘ to coincide with the exhibition. The booklet continues to be available for purchase. Over 1,000 people visited our exhibition during the week (which coincided with the locally held 4th World Feeder Fishing Championships). Owing to its popularity, the exhibition made a further appearance some weeks later at the Coachford Autumn Festival. We also made a charitable contribution from donations received.

Heritage Week 2014 saw another talk by Anthony Greene on 23 August, but this time indoors at Coachford National School. ‘Coachford & District: The World War I Experience’ was a detailed presentation by Anthony, accompanied by slides, where he enthralled the audience with the stories of local men who had participated in the Great War of 1914-18. The following month saw us back at the National School on the afternoon of 17 September for a talk on the effects of the Great Famine in Magourney by Doug Lucey, and ‘The Black Man’ (a famine play) by Coachford Players. The large attendance then walked to nearby Magourney graveyard for the unveiling of the Magourney Famine Memorial.

the black man (coachford players)
‘The Black Man’ (Coachford Players, 2014)

Other activities for 2014 included the making of submissions to Cork County Council concerning the draft Cork County Development Plan, and several ACR Heritage members also attended a Heritage and Tourism Conference in Drimoleague, which was organised by West Cork Development Partnership.

The year that was 2014 would be a hard act to follow, but still we looked forward to the coming year, and to continuing to preserve and promote our local history and heritage.

To be continued …