Volunteers transform Garrybreeda Cemetery
Garrybreeda Cemetery has been transformed over recent years from an overgrown and unkempt graveyard to one that residents in the area and Loughrea townspeople can feel proud of.
Above Garrybreeda Cemetery in 2009, below in 2016
Garrybreeda Cemetery Trust was established 2009. The voluntary team continue with the care of Garrybreeda Cemetery during 2016. Extra Volunteers and your donations are always appreciated.
The plaque outside Garrybreeda Cemetery reads:
The ruins of the former parish church located here appear to be of 13th – 15th century vintage.
The dedication of the church and the nearby well to St Brigid together with the configuration of
property and townland boundaries in the vicinity of the graveyard, suggest that this is probably
the site of an Early Christian monastery of 6th – 10th cetury date. The window in the east gable
and the head of the doorway with its moulding are probably of late 15th or early 16th century
date. As one of the few monastic sites in south Connacht dedicated to St Brigid, its religious
activity in medieval times, if not earlier, appears to have centres on the cult of this popular saint.
This is underlined by the survival of a probable late 14th century bronze slipper, formerly
preserved in Loughrea and now in the National Museum of Ireland. Known as “The Shrine of St
Brigid’s Show”, it would originally have contained a leather slipper worn by the saint. The
existence of this obviously once prestigious shrine emphasises the former importance of
Garrybreeda as a centre of religious worship.
Excluding private chapels, Loughrea has six churches, past and present. As a group, they are
remarkable in that they represent a tradition of Christian worship spanning almost 1,500 years.
The origin of Irish place names is not always obvious as meanings were often lost in the process
of anglicisation. St Brigid’s name was given to this area. Garrybreeda is derived from the Irish
‘Garri Bride’ and means the field of Brigid. The nearby Bride Street is also named after the
Photos with thanks to Colin Shaughnessy.