The Lios at Ballydavid – Christmas 1998

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I am sure that most people have heard of a lios or know where there is one, but I wonder how many young people know that they were used as burial places for babies who were still born or who died before they were baptised.

I have travelled quite a bit in my time and one of the best examples of a lios that 1 have seen is perhaps in Ballydavid.

If you go along Kilkelly’s boreen there is a right of way beside Peter Melia’s house, along the right of way about one hundred yards from the boreen you will see the ruin of a little church beside a tree. Beneath the tree can be seen quite clearly the little graves surrounded by upright stones to mark each grave.  I counted them once, years ago, I seem to remember something like 20 graves.

One might think that the practice of burying babies in this fashion went out with the famine, but I do in fact remember one such burial. I was perhaps eight or nine at the time.  As the practice, the burial always took place at night, it was a very sad thing to see just that poor man with a spade, a lantern and the little coffin under his arm.  There was no priest or anyone else present, but that poor man on his own with his sadness. 1 never did find out who he was as kids in those days were not told anything like that but I remember vividly Dad getting all us on our knees and my father and mother offering up the rosary, not for the baby, but for the man and his wife.

I went to see the lios recently and it has not changed one little bit except that cattle now shelter under the tree and in the little church.

I took some photographs of the place with the intention of trying to get this place for babies consecrated, cleaned up and a little monument to all those babies erected on the site of the graves.

I think that this would be a lovely project for the millennium and 1 would be happy to help out in anyway 1 can.

When I was in Kerry recently 1 came across a lios that was cleared of all weeds and rubbish, it had a nice chain placed around it and a simple monument with an inscription and dedication on it.

If you are ever down that way and you want to see it, it is on the Ring of Kerry about half way between Sneem and Castlecove. It is a good” example of what we should have in Ballydavid.

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About this record

Written by Micko Mannion

Published here 03 Apr 2023

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