I love wandering around old graveyards. There can be so much beauty there: the shapes of stones; the new life nature brings going on all around the old graves; and of course, the inscriptions on those gravestones.
Nature was very evident yesterday on a misty, wet February day in Killydonnell Friary on the shores of Lough Swilly between Letterkenny and Ramelton.
Dotted among the graves and with the ancient stones of the walls of the 15th century friary as a backdrop, clumps of that flower that tells us spring is here, the tiny snowdrop, spread in front of me.
The ancient and the new: memories of the past and hope for the future.
Which I suppose is what a graveyard is about.
Memories of the past in the inscriptions on the gravestones and hope for the future of those still alive to have these stones erected and engraved in memory of their dead loved ones.
Amongst all the graves one struck me as particularly poignant and that is the grave of a family called Murray.
The inscriptions there were full of love for a departed father and then later, the love too for this mans Donegal.
The gravestone shows that buried there is a man called John Murray Snr and his son, John Murray Jnr. Also there is a baby girl, daughter of John Murray Snr who died at just 2 years of age in 1947. John Murray Snrs father, David who died in 1937.
On the grave of John Murray Snr there is a piece of marble shaped like an open book with the inscription:
“In loving memory of a kind and gentle father with sorrow for the short time we had together.
Your loving son John.”
From the dates on the headstone it seems that John’s father had died when John Jnr was still in his teens hence the “… for the short time we had together” inscription on the book shaped marble stone.
His father died in 1961 at the relatively young age of 51 and John Jnr died in 2019 at the age of 77 making his age at the death of his beloved father just 19.
Behind his father’s grave, sitting atop the base of an old tree and overlooking the Swilly is a perfectly circular piece of marble with the following words carved on it:
“I know some day that I will return there
Just to see again the beauty of it all
I will buy myself a plot down by the swilly
and Rest in Peace in lovely Donegal
John Murray Jnr”
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We Love Donegal
We Love Donegal is a site dedicated to bring the beauty of County Donegal on the north west coast of Ireland to the world.