Major survey of graves underway
by Linda McGrory
A MAMMOTH survey of graveyards currently underway in
Inishowen to map the names and burial places of the
peninsula's deceased will be a "huge boost" to local
The indepth graveyard index is being compiled by
Irish Graveyard Surveyors Ltd., (IGS Ltd.,) and the
company claims the project will bring a massive
historical and genealogical boost to the area.
IGS Ltd., is a private firm, started four years ago,
by Mick Durkan and Niall Broderick, from Castlebar,
The two men have already surveyed thousands of
graves around the peninsula including Iskaheen, Muff
and Drung as well as Bocan, Culdaff and Ballybrack,
Their survey begins next week at cemeteries around
Buncrana including Cockhill and Desertegney.
Parochial permission is still being sought for
graveyards including those at Burt, Inch and Fahan
and other parishes.
Mr Durkan said the company, which employs 12 people,
has so far invested €160,000 surveying graveyards
all along the west coast including west Donegal. The
company aims to survey every grave in Ireland over
the coming years.
Mick Durkan, left, and Niall
Broderick of Irish Graveyard Surveyors Ltd at Ballybrack cemetery in Greencastle.
"We want to get the
whole community involved. The main benefit is that
deceased people won't ever be forgotten because
every plot will be surveyed even if it doesn't have
a headstone or isn't marked," said Mr Durkan.
"It will be a great genealogical tool for anyone
searching for their family roots which is a huge
industry. I get countless phone-calls every week
from people in America and other places."
Inishowen local historian, Sean Beattie agreed,
saying the project will bring great benefits to the
"This is a great piece of news for Inishowen
genealogy. Donegal has lagged behind the rest of the
country in terms of the listing of graveyards," he
"I think this will be an incredibly helpful tool to
historians and researchers on a worldwide basis and
will also be a great addition to the 1901-1911
Census which is now online," he added.
IGS Ltd., surveys each graveyard from dawn to dusk
each day and sends the information by email to their
Castlebar headquarters at night. Parishioners will
first get a chance to see the graveyard map on paper
- posted in local chapels - before a permanent sign
is erected. People are invited to offer any
corrections or amendments to the index.
A stainless steel sign is then erected at the
graveyard with the map and the corresponding
alphabetical listing of names showing the deceased
person's name, address, month and year of death, age
at time of death and plot number.
Mr Durkan said the company is getting a favourable
response from local authorities in terms of planning
permission for the signage.
The company will not profit from the survey itself
but the cost will be covered by the local parish.
The average cost of survey the Inishowen graveyards
is between €3,000 and €3,500. IGS Ltd., will also
have a website up and running from next year on
which they hope to sell advertising space to the
funeral trade including undertakers, monumental
sculptors, florists and hotels. The website will
allow users to find any grave including a digital
photograph of the plot.
Meanwhile, once the sign is erected, it can be
updated as and when the parish decides, for a
nominal cost. Anyone who would like to contact IGS
Ltd., can email