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16 October 2014
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History from Headstones:
Ardess - Page 2

As part of a series of special features, Breege McCusker visits the 1000 year old graveyard at St.Mary's, Ardess near Kesh...

Ardess Graveyard

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Local historian Johnny Cunningham says that his ancestors on his mothers side have been buried here for over 400 years. His family, The Eves, originally came over from east Anglia along with the Archdales during the plantation.

The oldest marked headstone to the Eves family was erected by John Eves to the memory of his father, Adam who was born in 1800.

Churchyard at ArdessAs previously mentioned, this is a mixed graveyard but, unlike many others, there is no evidence any segregation between Catholic and Protestant graves. In the majority of mixed graveyards, The catholic graves would be found on one side and the Protestant ones on the other. In this burial place they are all intermingled throughout the site.

Johnny comments that this graveyard is also possibly unique in Ireland for its rich mixture of Scottish, English and Irish names.

A large vault stands in memory of the Archdales, who were the local landlords. There is also an Archdale vault outside the church and another underneath the church, where some 20 members of the Archdale family now lie.

Audio Clip 4: Johnny Cunnigham - the Eves and the Arhdales



Mary Beard Can also trace her family history back to the Archdales. Her great Uncle was Blackwood Archdale who lived in Castle Archdale with his son and daughter in-law, Harry and Audley Archdale. Mary remembers well going to the Castle as a as a young girl and describes what it was like. “It was a great place. You went up the steps to the front door and there was a big hall with an enormous staircase which had a stained glass window at the top.” She explains how the window was accidentally destroyed years later by one of the Archdale family who, having rescued the window and packaged it in a box, drove over it with a tractor.

Mary confirms the story that the Castle was haunted. She adds the detail that it was only haunted from the third floor upwards and how a black dog was often said to have been seen up there. She remembers how Audley tried to get her horse to go beyond the second floor and it wouldn’t go. Therefore it was agreed that it was haunted.

Audio Clip 5: Mary Beard - Castle Archdale - as it was




William Roulston describes a sandstone headstone which is a particularly fine example of Fermanagh sculpture.

This stone (seen on the right) was once located inside the church. It was moved to the outside during recent renovations. The stone bears the inscription: ‘Here lieth the bodies of Thomas and Elizabeth Humphries deceased 1703’, making it over 300 years old.

The headstone also has other obvious markings. In addition to an elaborately sculpted family crest at the top, it has carvings of the skull and cross-bones motif and an hour glass lying on its side. These are known as mortality symbols. There is also a Latin inscription which translates as “Remember you must die”. This, William explains, was to remind people of their mortality and to help them prepare themselves for death.

Similar "mortality symbols" can be seen elsewhere in Fermanagh such as in the graveyard at Pubble, near Tempo.

Here lieth the bodies of Thomas and Elizabeth Humphries deceased 1703


Audio Clip 6: William Roulston - Mortality symbols



If you enjoyed this article you may like to read some of the others in this series, exploring community history through headstones... click here

Relevant weblinks:
The Pubble Graveyard: click here
History from Headstones:



Andrew Knox - July '08
My great grandfather Arthur Knox actually left for Australia in 1881 on the Blair Gowrie with 3 brothers and a sister. His older brother William stayed behind and became the Rector of Killisher Parish. His mother and father also emigrated. [Arthur and Mary nee Simpson]. They settled near Robertson on the New South Wales, Southern Highlands and young Arthur married Isabella Walmsley - daughter of James who hailes from this parish.

Mrs Leigh Anne Saddington - Jan '07
I visited Ardess Church in 1993 but I found it hard reading a lot of the headstones as they were so worn. I have one of Breege McCuskers books on the church and I found it very interesting.What a wonderful and old history it has and I remember walking inside and seeing the lovely stained glass.

Do you know if there are any details of the graves at Crevenish Castle, as my ancestors (Cochrane and Humphrys)lived there at one time? I mention this as I note that in the records of Ardess Church mention is made of some of the Cochranes and Humphrys as "buried at Crevenish." It would be wonderful to know just who is buried under the chapel area of Crevenish Castle and I thought that maybe be details are somewhere at Ardess Church as this was the family church.

Louise Gallagher Cavallaro - Nov '06
Could please tell me if there is any catholic records in black boy chapel in 1830's my family lived on rotten mountain rd and all daniel gallagher's children were baptized their .He married Ellen McGuire and the children were catherine,charles e daniel'bernard ilverton and thomas. Where can I find any records?

John Dinnen - Oct '06
Dinning/Dinnen Family:
I am descended from William Dinning a weaver from ? Derryvullan parish who married Mary Little of Magheraghculmoney parish on 17/4/1827. They lived in Drummiagh (Drummoyagh) in this parish and had two children. Their son John Dinning/Dinnen was a labourer in Ardvarney west, presumably for the Rector Edward Atthill. One of their grandsons also worked there then emigrated to Canada after 1911 census. His son Robert John Dinnen was a Lance Corp in the Canadian Engineers and was killed in France in 1917 (name recorded on War Memorial plaque in Magheraculmoney Church). I am interested in linking up with any family members.

Doreen Gibson - March '06
Re Duke of Westminster visiting the graveyard as a young student - surely he is still alive and living in London - I think he will be around 55 years of age - unless I have the wrong person.

Christie Brien - October '05
This is a wonderful article! I have been searching for information about this cemetery exactly, for I am researching my ancestors. How wonderful that someone appreciates the history of people, and is also trying to preserve it for others. Well done!!!

Joan Dawes - July '05
On a visit to Fermanagh I found there are several Murrays buried in this graveyard, as well as various spellings of Magee, Shannon and Magolrick. These are all names I am interested in and would love to hear from genealogists who can connect to these families.

Charles & Susan (Shannon) Murray (married Kesh) emigrated from Fermanagh to Australia in 1838, arriving Sydney NSW Feb 1839. They were accompanied on the Barque "Susan" by their six children: James, Philip, Elinor, Mary, Charles & Margaret. Research found Murrays and Shannons living mid 1830s at Aghinver, near Kesh. Charles Snr's father was James Murray; mother Ellen McGoldrick (or McGoldrich).

As for Magee, Charles Murray later [in 1855] sponsored his sister Dorinda (Murray) McGee’s children to New South Wales. The Murrays and McGees settled in the Ulladulla area of NSW. There are many descendants.

Peter Walmsley - June '05
What does Ardess actually mean?

Andrew Knox
M y great grandfather Arthur knox and his 10 siblings left for australia in 1888. we believe they were farmers somewhere near dublin born wife and I were visiting kesh between christmas 07 and new year and were interested in the famine graves. upon walking through the grave yard at the front of the church we became distracted by a number of knox great grandfather was to married a lady called walmsley.we noticed also this name was well represented however i dont know whether he married miss walmsley in fermanagh or new south wales.arthur was 19 when he arrived in aust. he worked at first as farm labourer in richmond NSW and later owned a farm cootamundra then berrima NSW.He became head of the sheep,cattle and livestock asociation of nsw and died in the sydney suburb of burwood in 1930





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