Historic Ironwork In Graveyards
Across thousands of historic graveyards and burial grounds in rural Ireland there is a vast undocumented and probably little understood part of our heritage rusting away before our blinded eyes. This consists of the historic iron railings, gates, memorials, grave-markers etc. many of which were made locally by a blacksmith who probably left his initials on the structure, or it was a more elaborate piece of cast iron purchased from some foundry.
ACP were commissioned by Abington Enterprise Centre Ltd (Community Group) with Leader grant aid support from Ballyhoura Development Ltd., to prepare a pilot Study Report on the identification and repair of Historic Iron work in Graveyards across the Ballyhoura region.
Methods and Resources:
- Five sample sites were identified for study.
- A survey template was developed, tested and finalised.
- The subject sites were studied, visited & inspected.
- The study outcomes were analysed and the specific types of ironwork, problems, necessary repairs, solutions required to repairs and the skills necessary were identified.
- A training strategy with a suitable training program to undertake the necessary repairs was identified based on the needs.
- A Pilot Stage budget was developed.
Main Iron Elements Identified:
- Forged/wrought iron crosses.
- Cast iron crosses.
- Cast and forged cross.
- Cast iron crypt doors.
- Cast iron railings.
- Wrought iron railings.
- Mixed cast and wrought iron railings.
- Mild steel and other metal memorials.
- All the historic ironwork surveyed dates from the 19th century.
- A total of 95% of the ironwork requires significant repairs and it is all at risk of complete loss over the next number of years.
- The necessary traditional blacksmithing skills are not there to undertake the repairs even if it was desirable.
- There is a very great danger of loss through inappropriate repairs or complete replacement by the fabrication industry.