Wildflowers in the Churchyard

Just south of the center of the small village of Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, stands St. Colman’s Cathedral, built in 1250 on the site of the monastery St. Colman founded in the 6th century. A few of my early Pritchard and Wright ancestors married, had their remains laid in the churchyard, and probably worshiped here.

We arrived at the cathedral on a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and parked on the street near the gate to the grounds. Construction fencing and scaffolding occupied some of the space between the perimeter wall and the front of the church. The churchyard was covered in wildflowers, ankle-high grass, and headstones from several centuries. A caretaker’s house was nestled in the corner up against the perimeter wall. Other than the laundry hanging on the line, there was little to suggest that anyone had recently been in the churchyard.

The cathedral from the churchyard

We peeked in the windows of the cathedral we could get close to, admired the carvings in the stone walls of the cathedral and searched the cemetery for Pritchards, Wrights, Corkers, and Whitecrafts.

Of my ancestors that lived in the area, I can only connect three to the cathedral and its graveyard: Stephen Wright, my 9th great-grandfather, is buried in the cemetery and his daughter, Alice Wright, married Pergrine Pritchard in the church.

Stephen Wright lived in Sleeven House, about three miles west of the cathedral. Stephen owned quite a bit of land, some of which was left to Alice when he died in 1726. Walking through the cemetery several times, we weren’t able to locate a headstone for him or any with the family names. Some of the headstone inscriptions were illegible or completely worn off.

Almost 20 years before Stephen died, Peregrine and Alice were married in the cathedral on 30 December 1708. Peregrine was listed as a gentleman of Coppingerstown, three miles north of the cathedral. Peregrine is found in church records for neighboring Middleton Parish as a church warden and a signatory of the church minutes until about 1743. Peregrine and Alice were the parents of at least seven children. Later, three of their grandsons immigrated to South Carolina around 1760.

While I was disappointed that I hadn’t thought to make arrangements to see the cathedral, we enjoyed wandering the churchyard. One day, perhaps I’ll make it back and go inside.

This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.

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