Service tomorrow to remember Donegal people buried in hospital graveyard

Community-led initiative to commemorate people buried in the St. Conal’s graveyard between 1868 and 1902.

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Service tomorrow to remember Donegal people buried in hospital graveyard

The new gate to the graveyard at St. Conal's Hospital in Letterkenny.

There will be a simple service tomorrow, Sunday, to remember the people of Donegal who were buried in the little-known graveyard at St. Conal’s Hospital in Letterkenny.

The service follows a community-led initiative to commemorate those who were buried in the graveyard between 1868 and 1902.

The service will take place at 3pm tomorrow, Sunday, April 23rd, in the graveyard, which is located to the rear of the St. Conal’s campus.

The project involved a number of key local people, all brought together by Betty Holmes of Donegal Action for Cancer Care, and such community groups as the Letterkenny Men’s Shed and Letterkenny Tidy Towns committee. Local historian and former psychiatric nurse, Hugh Devlin, was also on hand to provide vital facts and figures.

Betty brought people together on the project after she came on the graveyard during a walk through Letterkenny Town Park in April of last year. After walking through a narrow pathway edged in hedges, she came across a field marked by a large stone with the words: “In commemoration of those who were buried in this cemetery 1868-1902. May they rest in peace.”

“I never knew about it,” Betty said. When she got home, she contacted the Health Service Executive to start discussing what could be done to raise awareness of the graveyard. 

The project was supported by the HSE and Pramerica.

Daffodils and bluebells had been planted in the graveyard some years ago, and this has now been improved upon with the addition of a small fence, outlining the grave area, a stone pathway, a stone gatepost and new gate, and thousands of daffodils and crocus bulbs.

The project also aimed to improve awareness of and access to information about the graveyard. A brief video will shortly be available on the HSE’s website, www.hse.ie.

“It's such a special place,” Betty said. “When you step into the area, it is so tranquil - there is something so special about it.”

The committee wish to thank all of those involved in the project, particularly those who gave of their time, energy and enthusiasm in a voluntary capacity.