Walshestown Cemetery

From earliest Christian times in Ireland religious establishments were to be found in what is now the Parish of Mullingar. Traces of those establishments still exist in place-names and as graveyards - Kilpatrick, Kilbride, Kilronan, Kilbreeda, Kenny, Marlinstown, Hopestown, Lynn, and Portloman. It is impossible to say when these churches were founded, and indeed, the date of the erection of the first Church at Walshestown cannot be determined with precision.

 

The 1837 Ordnance Survey 6" map (sheet18) shows a T shaped church on the same site, but names it (in error) as "Mountain R. C. Chapel" . The 1837 map does not indicate a graveyard in the church grounds. A large tombstone in the centre of the church marks the resting place of Christopher Flemming who died in May 1807. An Electors ' List of 1832 shows the Flemming family as living in Slanemore.

 

It appears that burials commenced in Walshestown in the mid 19th century. The earliest date found was 1824 on a Gerety stone, but this may only commemorate a young man who died in that year. However there are two headstones bearing date 1855 (Casey, O'Neill), and several in the 1856 to 1859 period.

 

A big extension to the churchyard was consecrated by Most Rev. Thomas Nulty, Bishop of Meath, on October 2Yd 1892, and it appears the Church was also extended around that period, as the  1914 O.S. map shows a cross-shaped "R. C. Church".  "Walshestown School" is also shown in the  angle -between  the  Ballynacargy  Road  and  the Ballyboy road, and the churchyard extends into the townland of Slanemore.

 

A map, prepared  about 1925 exists in Cathedral Archives  of the "new extension" and shows sections "A" to "K". This map has been followed in preparing the list of Memorials and sketch plan. Additional letters from “L to W” have been allocated to the older and newer sections, but this is only for ease of identification of various areas. Many of the old residents are still remembered in. sections of the churchyard. For instance "Finnegans"  was  on  'the Ballynacargy roadside, "Ledwiths " is now incorporated in the Slanemore section, whilst Mulready's Garden" , on the Ballyboy road was  added in  1949.

 

During Lent 2001, Thomas Cassidy and Micheal Conlon recorded all the readable headstones.. A book exists listing all the current people interred in the cemetery and the location of their grave. This book is available on this website (under the "Resident Details" and "Headstone Data" tabs) to search for the location of individual people interred in the graveyard.

 

One of the more famous residents in the graveyard is the original "Westmeath Bachelor" Joe Dolan. Joseph "Joe" Francis Robert Dolan (16 October 1939 – 26 December 2007) was known for his association with showbands and for his innovative style and high pitched singing voice, he had a wide appeal with many international fans. His energetic and charismatic stage performances were well known as was his long standing advertising slogan: "There's no show like a Joe show". He was generally regarded as the greatest international star produced by the Irish showband era. The only Irish singer to reach the Top Ten in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Joe was a constant presence on the hit parade in Ireland and overseas.