17th/18th century gravestones

The name Tydavnet is derived from St Davnet (Irish; Damhnait) who is believed to have founded a church here in the 6th century. A small wall, pictured below, is said to be part of a later medieval church, but this is doubtful. The graveyard is noted for it's highly decorated late 17th and 18th century headstones. The earliest memorial dates to 1677. The backs of some of these headstones bear either heraldic crests, symbols of mortality or symbols of trade. A few of the thicker stones bear figure carvings on the sides. Similar headstones can be found throughout Ulster and Scotland.

The stone above is decorated with the family coat-of-arms and below it is a beautiful depiction of the Fall of Man/Adam and Eve. You can also see Adam peeping above the long grass in the image below right. A different style of headstone is pictured below left. It is similar to an Irish wheel cross, and bears memento mori, symbols of mortality. These symbols became very popular in the period following the Black Death, they include skull and cross bones, a coffin, a bell and an hour glass.

Memento mori

Heraldic crest

Heraldic crest

Memento mori

Heraldic crest

Forester / Adam and Eve

Pictured below is the funerary monument of Richard Robinson dated 1715. The wall was probably built to display the memorial, I suppose it's possible the stones used came from the medieval church, who knows. According to McCormick and McCormack, link below, some of the backs maybe decorated with Pseudo heraldic crests, representing the deceased persons occupation rather than his family crest. The Foresters headstone, pictured above right, is a good example, it features an axe and trees, the inscription reads "Cut me clean and I'll grow again"

Some of the headstones below bear symbols of the persons trade, the one featuring a square and compasses, see below left, could represent a stonemason but I believe it is also a symbol of Freemasonry. The Farmers headstone features a plough with a wooden frame and a spade, the inscription reads "Success to the F...r" The cobblers stone features a brogue and a glove, below them are the cobblers tools, An awl, pliers and a knife. An inscription now hidden below the soils reads "Cut me Clean" Four metres north of the Robinson memorial is the oldest gravestone here at Tydavnet and it's a beauty. The recumbent slab, pictured below left, was erected to a John Foster who died in 1677. It features a heraldic crest and the usual memento mori symbols. I am looking forward to revisiting Tydavnet and similar graveyards around the Monaghan area.

Square and compass - Stonemason/Freemason

Farmers headstone

Cobblers headstone

Heraldic crest / Crucifixion

John Foster memorial

Figures on the side of a headstone

Situated: The graveyard is situated in the centre of the town on the west side of the R186, about seven kilometres northwest of Monaghan town.

Discovery Map 28A: H 6405 3902. Last visit Aug 2019.

Longitude: 7° 0' 58" W

Latitude: 54° 17' 45" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey and José Gutiérrez.

Ref: McCormack, Finbar, and Finbar McCormick. “A Group of Tradesmen's Headstones (With Notes on Their Trades And Tools).” Clogher Record, vol. 10, no. 1, 1979, pp. 12–22. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27695784.

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