Cork City Council buys Huguenot graveyard to save it from development

 

A heritage group has welcomed the decision by Cork City Council to buy one of the last two surviving Huguenot graveyards in western Europe and save it from development.

The Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery group has been campaigning for the past five years and has enlisted the help of academics to preserve the Huguenot cemetery off Carey's Lane, Cork.

The founder and historian of the Huguenots in Ireland, Petra Coffey, said she was delighted to hear from Cork City Council that it had purchased the graveyard. She called on the council to start cleaning the cemetery and to acknowledge the Huguenot legacy in Cork.

"I would like to see the cemetery cleaned up like the Huguenot cemetery in Merrion Row in Dublin. It's in an awful state with a lot of rubbish dumped there," Ms Coffey said. "I'd like to see part of the wall removed and a railing erected so that people could see in.

"I'd also like to see a plaque erected on the wall listing the names of all the Huguenot families buried there and outlining the history of Huguenots in Cork."

Friends of the Huguenot Cemetery was founded in 2001 when businessman John Murphy first applied to Cork City Council for planning permission to build a coffee shop and exhibition on the site of the tiny graveyard.

However, Cork city manager Joe Gavin confirmed this week that the council had bought the site from Mr Murphy, who had retained a 2.4 metre (8ft) strip to provide access to a restaurant that he planned to develop on an adjacent site.

An estimated 8,000-10,000 Huguenots, followers of Jean Calvin, came to Ireland after fleeing religious persecution in their native France. Several hundred settled in Cork where they built a church on what is now French Church Street.

A school, an alms house and a graveyard were built nearby. The graveyard dates from 1710 and contains the remains of some of the most prominent Huguenot families in Cork. The last recorded use of the graveyard for burial was in 1901.