Eyre’s church, Eyrecourt

© Donal G. Burke 2015

The churchyard about the late seventeenth century Protestant church at Eyrecourt in the parish of Donanaughta in east Galway appears to have continued in use into the nineteenth century as a burial ground serving the local Anglican Church of Ireland population. Given its high status location, a burial vault constructed under the floor of the church chancel would appear to have served as the burial place of various members of the Eyre family, but no stone tablet was erected or survived to that effect.

While the church was replaced by another later Protestant church, constructed at the corner of Church Lane and Market Street in the village of Eyrecourt by 1820, burials continued at the graveyard until at least the last decade of the nineteenth century, with the latest recorded burial dated 1890.

Dr. Christopher Cunniffe, later Galway Community Archaeologist, in recording the sepulchral memorials of the graveyard in 1994 noted that a number of displaced coffins were visible at that time within the vault through the damaged vault structure.

This church and graveyard is in private ownership and is only accessible with permission of the landowner.

The following memorials are derived from those recorded by Lord Walter Fitzgerald circa 1912 and published in the Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland, Vol. VIII, No. VI, pp. 567-9 and those recorded by Dr. Christopher Cunniffe in 1994, the latter of which are reproduced below with the kind permission of the author.


O Lord have Mercy on the soul of Mary Banko who departed this life the 8 July 1844 aged 54 years also her daughter Mary Banko who departed this life January the 29th 1848 aged 20 years. May they rest in Peace Amen. Erected by John Banko to the memory of his mother and sister November 20th 1848. (IHS monogram – ledger)


See Sarah Horseman alias Banko


James Banko departed March the 8th 1722 agd 74 yrs. (Memento Mori – headstone)


See Mary Bernard alias Barrett


To the memory of Doctor William Bernard who depd this life Octbr 27th 1807 agd 52 yr.

Praises on Tombs are often vainly spent. A mans actions are his best monument.

Here also are deposited the remains of his father and mother miss Elenor Bernard who depd Jany 12th 1813. This stone was erected by his sister Miss Jane Bernard. (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of Giles Bernard who depd December the 27th 1776 aged 67 yrs. Pray for the Soul of Mary Bernard alias Barrett his wife who depd Novbr the 7th 1780 aged 63 yrs. Erd by their sons Giles and Christopher Bernard. (Recumbent headstone) Lord Walter Fitzgerald in 1912 gave the date of death of Giles Bernard, husband of Mary Bernard alias Barrett, as December 27th 1767 aged 67 years.


Departed this life John Bloomfield Esq. late of Redwood County Tipperary departed March 3rd 1771 aged 51 yrs also his third son Lieutenant John Bloomfield of the 19th Regiment he died the 30th of Decr 1785 aged 24 years. This stone erected by his younger son Robert Bloomfield Esq. (Ledger)


Here lyes ye boddy of Benjn Blumfield who departed this life ye 19 day in ye 55 year of his life 1737. (Badly eroded name – Recumbent headstone)


See Jane Purefoy alias Burrowes.


See Mary Pardy alias Byrne

Cealy / Gealy

See Mary Simmons for John Cealy / Gealy


Here lyeth the body of Henry Canneville who departed this life the middle May 1719 aged 90 years also his son Charles Canneville late of the City of Dublin Apothecary who departed this life The 8 day of March 1749/50 aged 46 years. (Ledger) Lord Walter Fitzgerald recorded this slab as lying ‘near and outside of the south wall of the church.’


Thomas Carlille, see Will Masterson.


Here lies the body of Thomas Carroll who departed this life the 18th 1773 aged 53 years. (Ledger)


See Matthew Lews re; his murderer John Carroll.


Here lyeth the body of George Dooly who departed this life 1797 aged 40 years this monument was erected by his nephew Mr John Thompson. (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of Mr John Dooly who departed May the 24 1794 aged 84 years also his wife Jane Dooly alias Gleendening departed October 17th 1789 aged 75 years. Erected by their daughter Eleanor Thompson alias Dooly. (Ledger)


Here lie the remains of Robert Eyre Esq. who dep this life July 21st 1860 aged 28 years. Erected by his brother Thomas Eyre and his father Richard Eyre Esq. died 29th March 1871 aged 91 years also his wife Mary Ann Eyre died 20th Sept 1871 aged 83 years. (Ledger)


See Jane Dooly alias Gleendening


See John McGee


Here lyeth the body of Henry Graham who depd this life March the 25th 1790 aged 70 yrs. Erd by his son Henry Graham. (Ledger)


The Revd Thos Hackett is here interred Endeared to all who knew him by exemplary Piety & ever good disposition. He on the 5th of Augt 1812 closed of long life of 44 yrs in humble hope of a blessed Resurrection. Here also is interred the Revd Archdeacon John Hackett who died on th 4th of Dec 1819 aged 44 years. (Ledger) Lord Walter Fitzgerald gave the year of death of Rev. Archdeacon John Hackett as 4th December 1812 aged 44 years.


See Jane Taylor alias Hall.


Here lie the remains of Richd Horsman depd this life Septembr 3rd 1832 aged 63 years. This monument erectd by his son Richd Horsman. (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of Sarah Horsman alias Banko who departed October 21st 1824 aged 38 years. Erected by her husband Edwd Horsman departed this life June 25th 1850 aged 72 years. (Ledger)


Erected by Edward Horsman in memory of his wife Kate Horsman who departed this life in the year 1866 aged 50 years. Catherine Howard Horsman age 16 years departed this life in the year 1865. Henry Horsman died 1857 aged one year. The above E Horsman left this Country for Australia in the year 1872. (Ledger)

Howard Horsman

See Edward Horsman re; Catherine Howard Horsman.


Here lyeth the body of Philip Jackson who depd this life July the 17th 1765 in the 63d year of his age. This stone was ered by his wife Mary alias Kent. (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of Charles Jackson who depd this life Novbr the 4 1771 aged 32 years. Erected by his mother Mary Jackson alias Kent. (Ledger)


See Mary Simmons re; her mother Sarah James.


See Mathew Lews re: William Jeeves.


See Mary Jackson alias Kent.


Here lyeth the remains of Richard Ledgett who depd this life August 29th 1822 aged 79 years. Erected by his son Joseph Ledgett as a small tribute to his remains. (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of Mathew Lews who was murdered by John Carroll in 7.B.R. 1721. William Jeeves erected this. (Headstone) Lord Walter Fitzgerald noted that this square upright slab was located near the Canneville slab and described the words ‘John Jeeves erected this’ as written in incised capitals on the top edge of the slab.


Here lyeth the body of John McGee who depd this life August the 18th 1773 aged 70 yrs Ered by his wife Ann McGee alias Gordon. (Ledger)


Heare lyes the body of Will Masterson who died July the 23 1741.

(Also on the same stone)

Here lyeth the body of Thomas Carlille who departed this life the (11)th day of March 1725/6. Here also lyeth 6 of his children. (Ledger)


In memory of Francis Garvey Moore son of the late Garrett Moore Esq. died 5th February 1850 aged 20 years. (Headstone – Stonecutter: O’Carroll, Birr)


Here lyeth the body of Mary Pardy alias Byrne who depd this life the 6th June 1806 agd 63 yrs also her husband Audley Pardy who depd this life the 10th June 1806 agd 72 yrs. Erected by their son Capt Thomas Pardy. (Ledger)


Sacred to the memory of Jane Purefoy alias Burrowes relict of James Purefoy Esq. who departed this life March 18th 1823. This monument erected by her youngest son Arnold Nesbitt Purefoy, Lieut on L.P. of her Majestys 21st Royal North Fusileers. (Headstone)


Sacred to the memory of Alley wife of the Reverend Thomas Purefoy of Banagher who departed this life Jan 8th 1828 in the 46th year of her age as a small tribute of ardent affection to a kind and affectionate wife tender and exemplary mother and a faithful friend. This tomb is erected in remembrance of her many virtues by her disconsolate and afflicted husband also beneath this tomb are placed the mortal remains of John Nesbitt Purefoy fourth son of the Reverend Thomas Purefoy who departed this life Nov 4th 1828 in the twentieth year of his age. (Ledger)


Remains of James Purefoy Esq. who depd this life on ye 20th Oct 1800 aged 60 also of his sister Thomasin Purefoy who depd on ye 6th Augt. 1788, aged…’ (Stone broken with some letters missing – Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of James Rafter of Bally House who dept this life November the 9th 1769 aged 34 years. Erected by his wife Mary and son Andrew Rafter.’ (Ledger)


Here lyeth the body of W.M. Serridge who departed this life May the 201734. (Headstone)


This stone was erected in memory of Mary Simmons late of birr who depd this life January 25th 1890 in the 50th year of her age also her mother Sarah James late of Eyrecourt who depd this life Nov 30th 1806 in the 60th year of her age. Erected by her son John Cealy/Gealy for him and his posterity. (Ledger)


Here lieth the body of Sarah Smyth alias Tillet who departed this life September th 7th 1782 aged 66 years. This stone was erected by her husband George Smyth to her memory. (Ledger)


Here lies the body of Jane Taylor als Hall who depd this life Novr 3d 1798 aged 28 yrs Eretd by her husband Henry Taylor Eyrecourt. (Ledger)


See Eleanor Dooly alias Thompson.


See Sarah Smyth alias Tillet.

A detailed record of these burials with associated layout map of graves and footnotes, prepared by Dr. Cunniffe, are also available at the following link; http://www.irelandxo.com/node/389

Other burial records

In addition to the burials recorded from surviving legible grave memorials, other burials are recorded in various sources. Among such is the following;


Among the numerous members of the Eyre family of Eyrecourt buried at this Eyrecourt church was its founder; Captain John Eyre who died on 22nd April 1685. Eyre’s widow, Mary Bigoe, would later marry as her second husband one John Seymour of the City of Dublin, Esq., (and later of Ballyknocken, King’s County) their marriage licence being granted three years after her first husband’s death. The Funeral Entry in Ulster’s Office relating to John Eyre the elder stated that he was buried on the 24th April ‘in the parish church of Donanaght built by himself near Eyrecourt.’ His burial there would appear to be corroborated by the fact that both his widow and her second husband directed in their respective wills of 1714 and 1700 that they be buried in the same ‘parish church of Donnought near Eyrecourt.’[i]


Charles Donelan senior, gentleman, of Lisnacody, Eyrecourt, in his will of 1746 directed his body be buried at the church at Eyrecourt. In the same will he effectively cut off with only £1 his sons Joseph and William and cut off his daughter Hannah, who married a man named Seymour. Married to a daughter of Captain William Shewbridge (and sister of Captain Joseph Shewbridge), Charles Donelan senior died in 1746 as his will was proved in that year by his son Charles and his son-in-law Atkinson Doolan.

Hannah Donelan, daughter of Charles the elder, married in 1739 Charles Seymour of Crow’s Nest in the parish of Clontuskert, third of the four sons of Charles Seymour of Ballymore Castle and was ancestress of the Seymours of Cloughbrack, of Lisnacody, County Galway and of Killagally Park, Belmont, King’s County.[ii] To her husband was attributed the construction of a three-storied house named Somerset in the parish of Clontuskert on lands about which he established himself and his family. While the Somerset estate was inherited by the eldest son of Charles Seymour and Hannah Donelan, one of the younger sons of Charles, Richard Eyre Seymour married another Hannah, daughter of Charles Donelan in 1773 and came to be seated at Lisnacody and Cloughbrack near Eyrecourt.[iii]

For further details relating to this family, refer to ‘Families.’

[i] NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 87, Draft Grants E, c. 1630-1780, pp. 75, 115. Funeral Entry of John Eyre of Eyrecourt; NLI, Dublin, Ms. 3268, Seymour of King’s Co., Co. Galway by H. Seymour Guinness. Genealogical Notes with Pedigree Table relating to the Seymour family; Gantz, I., Signpost to Eyrecourt, Kingsmead, 1975,, pp. 127-8.

[ii] NLI, Dublin, Ms. 3268, Seymour of King’s Co., Co. Galway by H. Seymour Guinness. Genealogical Notes with Pedigree Table relating to the Seymour family; Molloy, J. (ed.), ‘The Parish of Clontuskert, Glimpses into its past’, Clontuskert Heritage Group, Ballinasloe, 2009, p. 130; Burke, B., A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, (rev. by A. C. Fox-Davies), London, Harrison & sons, 1912.

[iii] NLI, Dublin, Ms. 3268, Seymour of King’s Co., Co. Galway by H. Seymour Guinness. Genealogical Notes with Pedigree Table relating to the Seymour family; Molloy, J. (ed.), ‘The Parish of Clontuskert, Glimpses into its past’, Clontuskert Heritage Group, Ballinasloe, 2009, p. 130; Burke, B., A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, (rev. by A. C. Fox-Davies), London, Harrison & sons, 1912.