ST. MARY’S CHURCH AND GRAVEYARD – HOWTH OLD ABBEY PHOTOGRAPHED SEPTEMBER 2008
These photographs date from twelve years ago and while I usually visit Howth every few months I have been unable to visit this year .
Until 2018 I had believed that this was known as Howth Abbey but I have been informed that it is St. Mary’s Collegiate Church but some official records refer to it as Howth (Old Abbey).
A few years ago I came across the burial register for this old graveyard and it is available at buried.fingal.ie/wp-assets-bif/uploads/pdf-downloads/Howt… [it contains some interesting details from 1962 until 2012].
For a number of years [starting 2006] I photographed a grave featuring a wooden cross with a teddy bear attached and I had assumed that it was the grave of a child or a baby. Eventually, after about eight years, the teddy was removed and it was then that I noticed that the inscription was R and L Barrett rather than R.L.Barrett. When I visited at the end of 2015 the cross had become separated from the grave as the base had rotted. When I last visited in 2019 I could not locate the cross.
The first church on the site, which overlooks Howth Harbour, was founded in 1042, although the present ruins are believed to date from the 14th century.
This old graveyard contains a number of interesting graves. I do not know if it is true but a local told me that “the strangers bank” was used to bury unidentified victims of sea disaster.
In October 2011 an outer wall collapsed following severe weather conditions and a number of coffins were exposed and as they posed a health hazard the local council had to evacuate a number of nearby shops and apartments.