Heart and Soul – Stephen Callaghan and Caimin O Brien
In what was once the heart of medieval Birr, located off Castle Street along a quiet
lane way behind railings and high stone walls, are the ruins of its medieval parish church
dedicated to St. Brendan, patron saint of the town, which today stands in a disused
graveyard. St. Brendan’s is the ﬁnal resting place for the deceased parishioners of Birr,
both Roman Catholic and Protestant. As Birr has grown and expanded throughout
the centuries, the carved stone records of its dead generations have remained and
endured the test of time. St. Brendan’s burial ground offers us a physical link between
the town of the living and the realm of its past. The stone records of this sacred place
reveal the forgotten folk art as expressed through the carvings of these marvelous
The occasion of the 2016 bicentenary of St. Brendan’s Church of Ireland parish
church on Oxmantown Mall, combined with the need to record the memorials in
the old St. Brendan’s churchyard, along with keen researchers/authors, has brought
about this publication. Field work for the project was carried out during April 2015.
The inscription, position and dimensions of each memorial were carefully recorded.
It is important to remember while reading the inscriptions in this book that they have
been recorded exactly as is, including any errors and mistakes on the memorials.
Where possible the individuals interred have been researched, and inscriptions cross
referenced with the Church of Ireland parish records and other primary and secondary
sources, such as newspaper articles, to produce short biographies. Some entries are
longer than others, with British Army ofﬁcers and soldiers providing most material as
surviving service records provide a paper trail.
Finally it is hoped that the reader will enjoy this book and through its photographs
admire the artistry in the craftsman who carved these memorials, and perhaps spare
a moment’s thought for the deceased of this town whose memory is forever recorded
on the stone records of St. Brendan’s Graveyard.