The Huguenot burial ground on Carey’s Lane dates back to the early 1700’s with the revoking of the “ Edict of Nantes 1685 “ and the fleeing of French protestants from France, to avoid religious persecution.
Approximately 5000 came to Ireland, and of those, 300 settled in Cork, making a significant contribution to the commercial and civic life of the city, with no less than 11 members of the Huguenot community serving as Mayors of Cork City between 1694 and 1840.
By 1712 the Huguenot Community had established their church at Lumley Street, which soon became known as French Church Street, and in 1733 acquired the adjoining almshouse which became the Huguenot Burial Ground.
In 2006 Cork City Council acquired a property off Carey’s Lane, to the rear of Monica John’s on French Church Street, which was formerly the Huguenot burial ground. Despite being one of the only two Huguenot cemeteries remaining in Ireland and of significant historical interest, the site had become neglected and overgrown.
In 2007, the City Manager and Council gave approval for reinstatement work to be carried out to the burial ground. This work was designed, planned and overseen by the City Architect’s Department, in collaboration with the Planning / Archaeology & Parks Departments, specialist design consultants & contractors, and “Friends of the Huguenot” representatives.
The existing extension building and sheds were removed under archaeological supervision, and the complete area was archaeologically investigated, culminating with the finding of two original lead covered coffins and tombstone of Marta Ward dated 1798 (which remain in the same location as found). Two other tombstones, Kate, Simion & John Peter Hardy dated 1811-1866, and John Madras & relations dated 1773 were reinstated as found.
Three information panels, in English, French and Irish, were positioned within the widened entrance gateway from Carey’s Lane, to allow passers-by to view and learn of the Huguenot presence and history. Also two vertical panels, one of John Rocque’s 1759 map of Cork, the other a layout plan of the burial ground, (as now reinstated with names and dates of tombstones) are positioned to the right hand side, showing the church and burial ground.
The original stone cemetery boundary wall which is leaning onto Carey’s Lane was stabilised, with a widened entrance & gateway added, including a replica of the Huguenot Cross incorporated over the gates. A new hardwood timber lintel was inserted over the gateway.
Uplighting to the original stone wall on Carey’s Lane and concealed lighting on the information panels is timed to light up at dusk and go off at midnight. Versailles tubs with bay laurus nobilis and baxus semperrens or box-hedging were planted at rear behind ivy ground cover, also with up-lighting. Old selected flagstones form a pathway, with stone chippings laid between the old stone burial vault, the brick chest tomb, the tombstones and the flag stones.
The overall desired effect was to achieve a fitting reinstated memorial garden / burial ground to re-establish the missing link in the Huguenot Quarter of Cork, and to awaken an interest both visually and informatively, of the Huguenot history and presence in Cork and to save for posterity their Cork burial ground on behalf of the National and International Huguenot descendents, Friends of the Huguenots and the people of Cork.