Carmavy County Antrim
Also known for many years as "The Place Of The Slaughter"
This protestant graveyard today sits on the site of an ancient Irish Catholic Chapel, back in the early 1600's the parish was attacked by English and Scottish Armies raging through the beautiful Antrim Plateu killing all that stood in front of them. The parishioners sought refuge in the Chapel but the marauding armies cannon-balled the Chapel setting it on fire before tumbling the walls in on the parishioners. The nearby chapels of Dundesert and Ballykennedy suffered a similiar fate, their parishioners chased to Hell, Hannahstown or beyond.
The old Catholic cemetery lay in decay for almost a century and people who had loved ones buried there were warned under sentence of death not to even dare return to visit their graves. The lush lands were taken by planters and those locals who survived this ethnic cleansing were left to roam like beggers in their own land.
Furthermore, under the Penal Laws, no Catholic was permitted to be buried other than in an Anglican cemetery and this was how it stayed until 1828 when Catholics were allowed to have graveyards of their own again.
Below is a list of some those draconian laws, Penal Laws, imposed on the native Irish by a foreign power.......
• The Catholic Church forbidden to keep church registers.
• The Irish Catholic was forbidden the exercise of his religion.
• He was forbidden to receive education.
• He was forbidden to enter a profession.
• He was forbidden to hold public office.
• He was forbidden to engage in trade or commerce.
• He was forbidden to live in a corporate town or within five miles thereof.
• He was forbidden to own a horse of greater value than five pounds.
• He was forbidden to own land.
• He was forbidden to lease land.
• He was forbidden to accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan.
• He was forbidden to vote.
• He was forbidden to keep any arms for his protection.
• He was forbidden to hold a life annuity.
• He was forbidden to buy land from a Protestant.
• He was forbidden to receive a gift of land from a Protestant.
• He was forbidden to inherit land from a Protestant.
• He was forbidden to inherit anything from a Protestant.
• He was forbidden to rent any land that was worth more than 30 shillings a year.
• He was forbidden to reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent.
• He could not be guardian to a child.
• He could not, when dying, leave his infant children under Catholic guardianship.
• He could not attend Catholic worship.
• He was compelled by law to attend Protestant worship.
• He could not himself educate his child.
• He could not send his child to a Catholic teacher.
• He could not employ a Catholic teacher to come to his child.
• He could not send his child abroad to receive education.
I recently decided to go ‘out and about’ and visit some of the places of interest which you have written about here on your website. I’ve driven through or past some of these small villages and sites many times previously - shamefully oblivious to the crimes against humanity that were committed there. Thanks to you Joe, and your own tireless efforts to shed the light of truth on our dark and sorrowful history, I, and hopefully many others, have been informed and enlightened as to the reality of what actually took place in certain parts of County Antrim. Events which served no purpose but to degrade Irish people and displace them from the homes they had built on rich and fertile Irish soil.
Influenced by your own recollections I went to Carmavy and also to the lush beauty of the countryside at Ballynure and Ballyeaston. Standing in the silence of the small graveyard at Carmavy, one can easily bring to mind the cruel and barbaric actions that were inflicted upon an unsuspecting people by Arthur Chichester and his army.
Picture in your mind the men, the fathers who could not protect their families from the black hearted yeomen. Picture the women, the mothers who could only watch in horror as their husbands and children were brutalised and killed before their gaze. If you listen with your heart as you stand in those places, you can almost hear their screams; their pleas for mercy. No mercy was shown. Picture the aftermath - the desolation, the realisation that you have been stripped of everything you once owned, everything you held dear, forcefully evicted and ejected as an object having no value or use.
How did they survive? What was it that caused the embers of resilience to grow into a burning flame of sheer determination and defiance? The English may have broken their bones, but they failed to break their spirit!
In our own recent battles to address the British invasion which continues today, we have taken great pride in holding up the heroic efforts of those we hail as our patriot dead as an example of how we too must persevere in the face of opposition and defy those who wish to oppress. We commemorate historical events which have been deemed ‘worthy’ of remembrance. Yet we have no little plaques on walls, no iconic memorials in place to honour those who gave so much so long ago. Are the events which happened under the bloodied hand of Arthur Chichester so unimportant that we want to hide them away? Are we ashamed to acknowledge what REALLY happened under the British?
Joe, you have rightly described what happened as “Ethnic Cleansing”; today, such actions would cause international outrage. Many incidents of this nature which took place throughout Europe and beyond are remembered with a sense of horror yet here in our own land, the majority are ignorant of our own history. These events have been overlooked and brushed aside - why?
What purpose is served in presenting history which is swathed in a cloak of grey silk? The ‘greying’ of our history serves no one. Today grey is seen as something bland or boring but there is nothing boring or bland about the history you have brought to light Joe. Too many important and vital details have been left out of our history books or watered down by those who are unable to deal with the historical facts. The past is not to be lived in but it is to be learned from. How can we learn if we are only given half truths and diluted accounts of our history?
I find myself asking a question: Is Joe Graham the only historian passionate enough about the events which have shaped this land and the people on it; is he the only historian willing to stand up and tell us the truth? I’m not anybody of consequence Joe, just an ordinary citizen who happens to love this land and one who WANTS to know the real truth. I commend you in your own efforts to reclaim our history and share it with us - warts and all.
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