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Relignaman - The Women's Graveyard, Carrickmore, Termonmaguirk Parish, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 46, 1983
Submitted by
Jim McKane, Ontario, Canada
jamckane[at]gmail.com

 

This is a study of Relignaman, a women's graveyard at Carrickmore and the separate burial of women dating back to pre-Norman times.

Click to download & view a pdf of the study


Courtesy of Love Heritage NI

Relignaman – The Women’s Graveyard

The significance of our historic sites is not always immediately obvious at first glance. Relignaman Women’s Graveyard is a good example,set outside the village of Carrickmore in Tyrone, about ten miles east of Omagh.

According to one story, St Colmcille first declared that ‘a woman of bad character’ be buried here, in poor ground, far enough away that a bell rung at her funeral could not be heard at his nearby church. Traditionally, it was believed that a living woman, or a dead man, should not enter the site.

There is a well-recorded tradition in Ireland of separate burial grounds for various groups of people. There are recorded sites around the country specifically for unbaptised children, for unmarried mothers, or for those who had committed suicide. In the same parish as Relignaman, there is also a separate graveyard for children, and another for people who had died violently.

The precise age of the site has not been established, but the use of the site is likely to be very ancient – there are written records of a church in the parish going back to pre-Norman times.