KILCLUNEY GRAVEYARD

(Irish Grid Reference: H966376)

The Parish of Kilcluney runs alongside the borders of Gosford Demesne and is situated in the Barony of Lower Fews. Originally known as 'Cloncerney' or 'Cloncearnie' from Clan-Cernagh, the Parish was the home of the Gaelic O'Hanlon clan until the land around was confiscated during the Land Inquisition of 1609. This land was granted to settlers of Scottish origin, including Sir James Douglas and Sir Henry Acheson.

The site of Kilcluney Graveyard is in the townland of Kilbracks, approximately one mile south of Markethill on the road to Glenanne. The graveyard is still in use and in the care of Armagh District Council. Reputedly, the last man hanged for sheep stealing in Ireland is buried here.

Within the graveyard is an elongated mound that seems to indicate the site of the original church. We do not know the date in which this church was constructed. Local legend has the church being burned to the ground with the congregation inside during the Rebellion of 1641. The historical evidence, however, does not seem to support this. The violence within the parish at this time came about when Sir Phelim O'Neill avenged his defeat at Castlederg by reputedly dispatching Mulmory O'Donnell to massacre all the Protestants within the parishes of Mullabrack, Loughgilly and Kilcluney. During this action, the Reverend Mercer of Mullabrack and the Reverend Burns of Loughgilly were murdered. The confusion over the destruction of a possible church on the site of Kilcluney graveyard seems to have arisen because of the unification of Kilclooney and Mullaghbrack parishes early in the seventeenth century, in February 1627 (Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland, Membrane 47). Mullaghbrack church was indeed attacked and its minister Mercer killed in 1641. Because the Reverend Mercer was at the time minister for both Mullaghbrack and Kilcluney parishes, subsequent generations have supposed the elimination of a church at Kilcluney.

This union of Kilcluney and Mullaghbrack parishes lasted until 1792 when Lord Viscount Gosford granted an acre of land to the congregation for the purpose of a churchyard. A gift of 500 from the Board of First Fruits in 1794 brought about the construction of the present church, Saint John's Church of Ireland, Kilcluney, in the townland of Glassdrummond.


Kilcluney Graveyard. Photo of Kilcluney Graveyard

Photo of Kilcluney Graveyard