MOUNT ST LAWRENCE CEMETERY IN LIMERICK
On Tuesday I travelled by bus from Limerick University Campus to Mount St Lawrence Cemetery but the bus was diverted because of a very large funeral which could be described as “traditional” and I decided that it would better to return the next day. The weather forecast for Wednesday was not good, with rain predicted, but when I awakened early in the morning the weather was beautiful so I decided to walk to the cemetery and to bring a 15mm manual Voigtlander lens which explains why some of the images are distorted. As a matter of interest I use a Zeiss Batis 25mm lens when I visited in 2019 and I think that the images were slightly better.
As of August 20th 2013, Mayor of Limerick Kathleen Leddin launched an online database which holds information on the 70,000 buried in the graveyard, dating from 1855 to 2008. This database will contain information such as the names, addresses, times of death, position of graves, ages and dates of deaths of those buried in Mount St. Lawrence. This will contribute greatly to the city and surrounding areas. The city can use the information on the records to give accurate figures on the mortality rate, for example. It will also help to discover what the problems were in the hospitals of Limerick back in those times and why the death rate was so high.
Cemeteries in Limerick began to fall under immense pressure due to cholera epidemics in the 1830’s and the Great Famine in the 1840’s. This led to the founding of Mount St. Lawrence cemetery. Originally it formed part of the larger medieval parish of St. Lawrence in Limerick. This parish also contained a leper hospital, granted by King John, which was later returned to Limerick Corporation. They then leased some of the land to the Limerick Diocese for use as burials grounds. Mount St. Lawrence was officially opened on March 29th 1849 in a ceremony presided over by Dr John Ryan, Bishop of Limerick at this time.
The Neo-Gothic Church was designed as a mortuary chapel by architects M & S Hennessy, who also designed the tall spire of St. John’s Cathedral, which is now a notable point in Limerick City. It was designed in Celtic and Gothic Revival styles with an Arts and Crafts influenced interior. Mount St Lawrence graveyard was the primary place of burial in Limerick City for all members and classes of society, from the wealthy and powerful to those poverty stricken.
Mount Saint Lawrence has always contained plots reserved for certain groups, for example, religious graves, diocesan graves and a Republican plot.
On the 29 March 1849 Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery was opened on an 18 acres site on Mulgrave Street to alleviate the overcrowded city graveyards. From 1849 until 1979 the cemetery was run by the Catholic Church and in 1979 it was taken over by Limerick City Council and the day to day running of the Cemetery is by the Environment Department.
Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery was the primary place of burial in Limerick for all strata of society, from the wealthy to those who died in the Lunatic Asylum and Workhouses. The more prominent families tended to be buried along the central path close to the chapel. The ‘Poor Squares’ were located at the top of the cemetery at the left hand corner and in the bottom right corner.
Burial Records date from March, 1855 and the Burial Register records that over 70,000 individuals have been interred in Mount Saint Lawrence, up to 2009. The oldest individual recorded in the register is Mary Keane of Thomondgate, buried on 24th January, 1880 at the age of 110.
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