"With regret we record the death of above esteemed gentleman, which took place at his residence, Tawnykinaffe, on 30th January, at the ripe old age of 104 years. Deceased, notwithstanding his great age, was hale and hearty up to the time of his death, and was the possessor of a wonderful memory. It was a treat to listen to him recite legends which he heard from his father of the Irish rebellion of 1798, at which his father and two or three of his uncles joined the French forces to strike a blow for Irish freedom. He would also thrill you with tales of black ’47 (the year of the famine), when he was then a young man of 22. Hundreds of the people around his native place, and whom he knew well, died from starvation by the roadside, and in several cases were buried where they fell, there not being even a shroud or coffin to cover them. This was a time when disease and starvation were rampant in our country. But, as a lover of his native land, and its ancient language, he would tell of Castlebar a hundred years ago, which it was then a stronghold of the British and their sympathizers, and the change that has been wrought to-day, when there is not a vestige of the foreigner left. He was an ardent Catholic and died fortified by the consolations of our holy religion. His funeral took place to Turlough burial ground on Friday last, and his remains were laid to rest beside that of his late brother Thomas Gillen, Thomas Street, Castlebar, who also attained the great age of 99 years, and beneath the shadows of the ancient round tower. [emphasis added] The chief mourners were: Michael Gillen (son); Mrs. O’Donnell (daughter); Mrs. Gillen (daughter-in-law); Michael Gillen, Bridgie Gillen, Terrence O’Donnell (grand-children); Mrs. F. Chambers, Castlebar; Mrs. J. Hopkins, Crimlin; and Mrs. T. Staunton, Tawnykinaffe (nieces). The funeral was large and very representative, Rev. Fr. Neary, P.P., Parke, officiating at the graveside."When we met my Gillan cousins, they were able to tell me that more recent generations had been buried in the cemetery, but couldn't verify that the first (known) Martin Gillan was there, too. Regardless, we took the trip out there on our last day in County Mayo, the day before our flight home. We got a smidge lost on the way, but were able to ask a nice couple for directions and discovered we were actually very close.
The graveyard itself is unmistakeable, thanks to the presence of the "ancient round tower."
It's not small, and my husband and I split up to cover more ground. We came across several relevant family names, but most were very recent burials, and our extensive searching did not turn up any of the older Gillan graves.
The graveyard was not overgrown, but was apparently one of those places that only gets mowed a couple of times per year - and it had been a few months. It was a bit of an adventure, with uneven ground and damp, ankle-deep grass, but it was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed a pleasant hour or two looking at each stone.
|Ben in the Turlough Cemetery|