St James’s Graveyard is a national monument, associated with the former St James’s Church, which was originally founded in the 12th century. The graveyard, in the ownership of Dublin City Council is the largest of the old Dublin city cemeteries. The surviving memorials date in the main to the period between the 1750s and 1950s, the earliest recorded inscription is dated 1627 and there are some burial rights still extant.
The large burial ground encloses the former church on three sides, and comprises one and a half acres. The main part is on the north side, and, apart from a level terrace on which the 19th century church is sited, slopes steeply to the north. Its one of the best places to appreciate the ancient esker ridge on which was set the Slí Mhór (which later formed into Thomas Street and James Street) as it slopes down to the valley of the River Liffey.
The graveyard is currently undergoing restoration work including repairing and conserving many of its memorials (there are over 700), the boundary walls, and developing new landscaping to create a more open and accessible place.
You can read more about the St James’s Graveyard restoration project at www.stjamesgraveyard.ie. You can also learn more about one of the graveyard’s most imposing monuments, the memorial of Sir Theobald ‘Toby’ Butler, a former solicitor general of Ireland and leading supporter of the Catholic King James II, with this recent post by Sean Murphy via ww.frg.ie.