In 2016 a local committee was formed in Drumgoon, Cavan, after community members became concerned that the Drumgoon Hill Graveyard was becoming overgrown and dilapidated. The committee initially cleared the site of vegetative overgrowth before commencing a graveyard survey, including: carefully cleaning the headstones with a soft brush and water; gently tracing the headstone inscriptions; recording the dimensions of the headstones and photographing them. Currently the earliest legible headstone dates to 1710, although locals point to the earlier significance of the site.
Ordnance survey mapping suggests a Catholic Church was once located in Drumgoon Graveyard, which is thought locally to be the location of the first Catholic church in the parish. Drumgoon Hill was previously identified as the site of a rath or ringfort, with locals speculating it may even have a prehistoric significance, located as it is, in sight of the Black Pigs Dyke.
A community grant by the Heritage Council facilitated Kevin Barton of Landscape and Geophysical Services undertaking topographic mapping, graveyard surveys and geophysical surveys at the site in 2017 and 2018. In 2018 the Drumgoon Hill Graveyard Maintenance and Support Committee secured further funding under the EU’s Peace IV funding – the ‘Building Positive Relations Project’ – to undertake a community archaeology project for Drumgoon, but also Killesher Parish, and Dernakesh Chapel of Ease. The Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS)/Irish Hertiage School (IHS) were invited onto the project in 2018, as they possess expertise in several facets of the project which include community archaeology, oral history, geology, field archaeology, graveyard survey, children’s education etc. We commenced work on the project in 2018 and will continue works in 2019. Our works are part of a five year plus plan for the site.
Role of the Irish Archaeology Field School
The role of the IAFS/IHS on the project is as follows:
- Archaeological/ topographic surveys at 3 graveyard sites – (a) Druminiskill, (b) Dernakesh (c) St John’s Church: the delivery of plans for each survey showing the location of marked graves (with plot numbers), provision of photographs for each grave marker/ details of stone types and research report of the ecclesiastical history associated with each site. These works are scheduled for spring 2019.
- Archaeological Surveys to be conducted at Dernakesh to inform the location of a new pathway.
- Carbon dating of charcoal layer in the bank of Drumgoon Hill graveyard placing the result within a report on the historical/archaeological /ecclesiastical context of the site. A licenced excavation to facilitate sampling of this charcoal was undertaken in December 2018.
- Geological report on stone types used in grave markers in Drumgoon and investigation of any link between stone used for the chapel-of-ease at Dernakesh (built 1826) and stone which may derive from an earlier church at Drumgoon. These works are schedule for spring 2019.
- Historical and archaeological investigation of possible walkway between Florence Court House and St John‘s Church, Florencecourt, Fermanagh, and delivery of report. These works were largely completed in 2018.
- The provision of a one-day on-site archaeology workshop, at a location to be agreed, for community participants. These works are schedule for the conclusion of the project.
- Oral history collection recording and transcription from approximately 20 local participants, cross-community/cross -border, on ‘funeral rituals, superstitions of the past with death and burials’. These works are scheduled for spring 2019.
- Provision of 2 days research support for schoolchildren/community members researching prominent local burials in the sites listed: 1 day for St John’s and Druminiskill, 1 day for Dernakesh and Drumgoon. These works are schedule for spring 2019.