Public urged to help identify unmarked burial sites

IT’S A PART of our not-too-distant past that some may wish to forget, however the people of Fermanagh are now being urged to take part in an important research project to uncover the county’s forgotten ‘cillini’.
Like the mother and baby homes, these unmarked burial grounds are regarded by many as a stain on Ireland’s recent history. In use from the 1600s right up until the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, a cillin was where unbaptised babies, as well as adults who were deemed unsuitable by the Catholic church to be buried on consecrated ground, were laid to rest.
Courtney Mundt, an archaeology PhD candidate at Queen’s University who is researching Fermanagh’s cillini and is hoping for local help with the project, said there were only six recorded cillini here in the county. However, so far in her research she has identified 22 more of these burial sites locally.
“There are undoubtedly more examples out there that need to be recorded, but this requires help from the Fermanagh public,” she said. “My project would enable the locations of all these poignant burial grounds to be recorded and protected for future generations.”
To that end Ms Mundt, who is studying under the supervision of Derrygonnelly academic Prof Eileen Murphy, is hoping Herald readers may be willing to volunteer information about possible locations of the sites in Fermanagh.
“[Cillini] are located across Ireland, often in older archaeological sites such as abandoned churches and ecclesiastical sites, old graveyards, ringforts/raths, and megalithic tombs,” she said. “They have also been found in the corners of fields, near roads, by lakes and rivers, and around townland and parish boundaries.
“These sites are very difficult to identify from the air and on site, and that is why we need your help.”
Ms Mundt is hoping local people will volunteer to take part in in-person questionnaires and one-on-one interviews, with both Ms Mundt and her supervisors, over the next year.
They are also open to conducting the research via phone, video call, email or letters. All information given will be used under a pseudonym, to protect identities, and participants can withdraw their information any time before January 1, 2022 for any reason.
To get in touch, email or write to Courtney Mundt, Queen’s University Belfast, 42 Fitzewilliam Street, Belfast, BT9 6AF.


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