An online, searchable database of 70,000 people buried at one of Ireland’s largest cemeteries is nearing completion and will be officially launched next month, it has been announced.
Staff from Limerick City Archives in conjunction with the History Department of Mary Immaculate College of Education, have spent the past two years manually transcribing thousands of handwritten records of those buried at Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery between 1855 and 2008. The records include the name, age, address and in many cases, the cause of death of those buried in the 164-year-old cemetery.
Mount St Lawrence graveyard, located in the South Liberties, has been the primary place of burial in Limerick City for all strata of society since its opening in 1849. Its development was initiated as burial ground capacity elsewhere in the city was placed under pressure following cholera epidemics in the 1830’s and the Great Famine in the 1840’s. An extension to Mount St Lawrence was opened in 1960. The management of the cemetery was transferred from the Church to the Limerick City Council in 1979.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Kathleen Leddin described the newly developed online records as an important step in Limerick City’s preparations to become Ireland’s first National City of Culture in 2014.
She added: “There are few people in Limerick City and surrounding parts, including southeast Clare and County Limerick, who do not know somebody or do not have a relative who is buried at Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery. This online database will make it much easier for members of the public, both at home and abroad, to locate information relating to their deceased relatives. I wish to congratulate Limerick City Archives and Mary Immaculate College for their hard work in delivering this project.”
“According to the Burial Register, over 70,000 individuals were interred in Mount St Lawrence between 1855 and 2008, though the actual number is believed to be higher,” explained Jacqui Hayes, Limerick City Archivist, Limerick City Council.
Ms. Hayes added that the cemetery records provide a unique insight on the history of Limerick and its citizens over a 153-year-period.
She continued: “The records contain the names, addresses at time of death, ages, position of the grave and dates of death of all those buried in the cemetery. This information makes them an invaluable resource for those conducting genealogical research on the Limerick area. The records also offer a unique tool for those conducting research into the social history of Limerick and mortality rates for all ages in Limerick City and its environs for over a century and a half.”
“The address of the deceased gives an indication of the footfall of various institutions including Barrington’s Hospital and St John’s Hospital and is invaluable in the case of Limerick Union Workhouse whose admissions records are no longer available. This feature of the records also reflects the political and consequently geographical changes which took place in the city of Limerick, for example the renaming of the streets over time,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Hayes confirmed that work is presently underway to develop a publicly available online map of all burial plots at Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery. Students and academics from the Geography and History Departments of Mary Immaculate College are working together with Limerick City Archives on the project.
According to Ms. Hayes: “This project represents the next phase of our online records project, and involves pinpointing each plot with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. By April of next year, members of the public will be able to click onto a person's name and learn where their burial plot is located. The new system will also enable people to click onto a point on a map and discover who is buried there.”
The online, searchable records of those buried at Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery will be officially launched at No. 2 Pery Square, the Georgian House headquarters for the City of Culture project, on August 20th.