We have to thank Kerry Local Authorities for their Kerry Burial searchable online website. This is an invaluable resource and a useful tool in assisting ancestral research. Graveyards can be a rich source of genealogical information, particularly for the minority of the population that could afford to erect headstones. Multiple generations of families, wives maiden names and places of origin can be inscribed on the memorials and the older ones will often pre-date printed records.
In Kerry we are lucky that you didn’t need to be able to afford a headstone to have your death recorded. Researchers can now search for burials in a cemetery based on specific criteria or may opt to view an entire register in its original format. Original records contain entries in relation to the age of the deceased, the cause of death, rank/occupation/profession at the time of death and marital status. Such information can often prove beneficial to researchers, particularly with popular surnames.
Unfortunately the site does not purport to represent all burial records for Local Authority Cemeteries in County Kerry. Sadly, books were lost or destroyed over the years or records may not have been kept in the first instance. Some of the records start relatively recently and others go back to the early 20th Century.
When researching a relative who died in New Zealand recently, I was able to piece together a remarkable story from one such burial record. Our relative was Eily Leen (nee Laide) who had emigrated from Gortatlea in the 1950s. She died in December 2013 aged 90. Her date of birth on her New Zealand records was 12 January 1923. But from the Kerry Burial records, we were able to prove that she was in fact born sometime in December 1922. How could we have found a birth date from a burial record? It was family lore that Eily’s mother died soon after she was born. She was the youngest of eight children. There was the burial record of Nora Laide (nee Knight) in the Killbannivane (New) burials, she died on 24th December 1922, aged 41. She was a ‘farmer’s wife’. She was buried on Dec 26th St. Stephen’s Day and the death cert was signed by her brother Sam Knight.
Eily’s birth was never registered in 1922. We now presume that in the sadness and confusion of the death of her mother on Christmas Eve, the family just forgot to register this child’s birth. There is a later registration of a birth saying she was born on 12th January 1923 which was registered in 1956 ? Did she have to try and get this registration as she was getting married and going to New Zealand? When Nora died, the eldest in the family was just 15. By the time of Eily’s wedding, a guess must have been taken at a probably date of her birth and January 12th was decided on.
So while the records on KerryBurials.ie might not go back as far as you want, there are scraps of family history to be gleaned from the records there.