Significant progress has been made with compiling records of all those buried in Ballyglass Cemetery, thanks to the efforts of an intern employed by Westmeath County Council for the task.
Jenny Daly is compiling an electronic record of data relating to the plots in the Mullingar cemetery, and updated councillors recently on her progress with the records so far.
The cemetery is 122 years old, with the first burials having taken place in 1891. However there are several gaps in records for the cemetery over the years.
“I am trying to fill in the blanks to create a record. At present we have records of 14,399 people buried there, but there is a five-year gap in the records from 1983-1988,” explained Ms Daly.
As she collects the records, Ms Daly is developing a database, with the help of the council’s IT department, containing cemetery maps, names, plot numbers, photographs of headstones, and scanned images of the cemetery’s register.
“Half the graveyard has been surveyed up till now. I am getting to the difficult stage of looking at the graves which have no headstones,” she explained.
The council’s director of services David Hogan explained that some €20,000 of paid parking revenue had been allocated to the project.
“Jenny joined us at the end of October on a nine-month JobBridge placement. She started with nothing and with the IT department has done tremendous work. The full fruition will be seen in early summer,” said Mr Hogan.
The database will initially be made available in the library, after which it is expected to be moved to the gate lodge at Ballyglass cemetery.
“We want to find out first what kind of questions people are asking, whether people will need much help, etc. The intention is to make it available on the internet; tracing roots has become a huge growth tourism industry, and the benefits from a tourism point of view are enormous,” he added.
Depending on its success, the council intends to look into rolling the project out to all the county’s cemeteries which are under its management.