I would hope that the headline here does not give the wrong impression. Finding a grave in Kerry is not as easy as it may sound in this story. I get numerous requests asking if it is possible to find a grave in various locations in the county and there are two answers really. If it is a grave for a person who died and was buried prior to about 1920, it is problematic. . Descendants who live in other countries now, find that difficult to understand. But we must remember that the majority of 19th century burials were not marked by fine headstones or memorials, a lot of graveyards have become overgrown, what markers exist have been much weathered over the years and are difficult or impossible to decipher.
In essence, unless the person who is buried in a Kerry graveyard in the 19th century, had descendants who lived on in the area and continued to use the grave, later putting up a headstone, then it is next to impossible to positively identify the exact burial place.
For 20th century burials we have a very good free Kerry County Council Burial website Joe Maher also has an excellent site with great images from all graveyards in Kerry. If your ancestor was buried in one of these mostly 20th century graves and has a legible marker/memorial – yes you should find it here. But unfortunately all of our ancestors or their parents did not have these markers.
”The name Lars Larsson was first mentioned to me in a conversation that I had with Dotie Cronin, who was an elderly neighbour of ours and an old time family friend. The Cronin family originally lived in thatched cottage in Upr William St., (Listowel).
As I grew up in the late 1940s and 50s, I became aware of two elderly Cronin sisters, Kathy and Dotie, their back yard, which entered into the laneway at the back of our house, was home to fowl of many descriptions, with each species, hens, ducks, bantams and even two geese, having little sheds of their own. Every morning, the back gate would be thrown open and the fowl would be allowed scatter to the four winds, ranging out through the fields, belonging to Chutes, Shanahan and Brodericks at the rear of the street. Broderick’s field skirted the Limerick/Tralee railway track, with countryside on the far side, stretching up to Knockane and Raymonds of Dromin Hill in the far distance. This railway track defined in our young eyes whether one was a townie or from the country. The Cronin birds, then perhaps would have been the last of the free rangers in our urban setting. By early evening when the fowl would have returned like the hunter home from the hills, Dotie, the enumerator, would do a head count. If any failed to return, she would arrive in consternation at our back door, calling out to my mother, “Those wayward bitches of hens don’t know how fine a home they have in Cronins, would Vincent have a look for them”. Most times, the stragglers would be rounded up and a relieved Dotie would present me with a couple of fresh hen eggs.
Doties was a font of knowledge with a great source of local history … One evening she said to me “Did I ever tell you about the man from Sweden?”. So she started “My mother died in 1926, I looked after the house for my father. . Some years later, on a Sunday when my father had gone to a football match, a stranger came to our front door. He was a foreigner, he explained that he had previously contacted my father and arranged for him to put up a memorial gravestone over the resting place of a Swedish man, Lars Larsson who had died in Listowel in 1929.”
This man had visited the cemetery and was happy with the work so he wantd to pay the remainder of the bill. He then paid Dotie, also giving her two half crowns for herself. Before leaving he left an address of a family in Sweden, where he requested Dotie to ask her father to send a receipt for the cash. As I was unaware of the grave, Dotie then told me where the stone was to be found, which I visited out of curiosity.
One fine evening in the mid 1990s, I was coming from Sportsfield, passing the cemetery I went in to visit our family grave. Inside the gate were two heavily laden sports bikes. As I went down the central pathway I was approached by two people, by their style of dress, I guessed that they were the owners of the bikes. They had been looking at the graves. On introducing themselves, they were brother and sister from Sweden, they enquired if I was a local, was I familiar with the various graves, or if not, would the local authority have a record of the graves? I would have a fairly god knowledge of the place so I asked “What particular grave or stone are you looking for”? . They explained that when they were young, they had been on vacation at a relatives home in rural Sweden. One wet day, they had taken refuge in the attic of the house. While up there they came upon an old trunk, opening it, they found old clothes and some letters. Looking through these they found one which was not in Swedish. Taking it downstairs and showing it, it was explained that it came from Ireland and concerned the burial of a relative who had lived in that house and that he had died in a far distant land.
So after all these years, the brother and sister, who had found James Cronin’s letter in the attic trunk, now found themselves back in the town where Cronin, the stonemason lived and where their relative Lars Larsson had died in 1929. I found their story amazing. I said “You are lucky, you have just met the only person that knows the whereabouts of the grave and the history behind it.”
When we went to the grave, which is marked by an inscribed flat stone with iron railings, it was covered by thick low branches of a thorn bush, with the stone unreadable. I went across the road to a garage and got a shovel. Returning, I quickly cut away the bush, which allowed the details to be seen,
Lars Larsson, 1872 – 1929. – (It is very weather stained )
So, on that lovely summer’s evening in the 1990s, I stood and heard the visitors recite the Lord’s Prayer in their native tongue. They were delighted to have found the grave of the man which they learned of first, on a page, in a foreign language. I was happy to have been the conduit through which I first learned of the Swede, sitting with Doties many years previously’.