Friday, December 30, 2011


What would 2 red blooded American males do on a day off?  Why go cemetery hunting of course!  Walter Hickey and I (along with my daughter, Cait) took off to find more of Clan Cummiskey.  First we drove to St Francis de Sales Church in Charlestown.  How the good people of Charlestown negotiate the hills I'll never know.  On top of that, most of the parking is residential only.  The cemetery is usually locked, but the folks at the Catholic Cemetery Assoc made the contact to St Francis to have it open.  Sometimes in doing research you find folks don't open their doors too wide, but not in this case.  I am really grateful for their cooperation.  Once we climbed the hill there was the church sexton waiting for us.  He could tell Walter and Cait were out of breath (not myself since I am in tip top condition).  He smiled when he informed us the cemetery is on the other side of the hill.  So what goes up, must go down, and then back up. 

Our quest was to find James Cummiskey.  All evidence says that James might have been Hugh's brother.  The entrance to the Cemetery has a beautiful Celtic cross that is at the head of the field of stones.  Looking over it we knew we had a daunting task to find James.  The saints must have been guiding us for exactly where we stood was James Cummiskey.  The stone was slate with the traditional willow pattern.  He's buried there with his wife, both "from the parish of Dromore, County Tyrone."

The Cemetery is is in back of the church.  It is wonderfully maintained with respect for those who rest there.  Originally, it was the encampment for the "Brits" during the Battle of Bunker Hill.  As someone who has spent a lot of time in old burial grounds, this place was a gold mine.  Almost all the stones are upright and legible.  One of the first items we noticed was the varied types of slate used compared to our area.  There went very light to dark grey tones.  The next point of interest was the style of carving.  You can actually tell the carver since each developed his own style.  The Charlestown carvers carved their lettering much deeper than the carvers in Lowell, such as Warren and Day.  One line repeated itself on a number of stones A Cary Fecit (A Cary made this.)  A good number of the stones had the identical icon of IHS with some decoration under.  This was obvious as stone after stone appeared the same, but then the carver used some very unique stenciling not seen anywhere in our area.  The sunburst was another motif used throughout the cemetery.  One stone I've never seen before was a lamb on slate material.  The carving needed to do such, had to be made by an expert hand.  I had a personal interest in finding any shamrock stones on slate.  To this date St Pat's appears to be the only such examples anywhere on either side of the Atlantic.

The trip down to the car was a lot easier than the way up. With time on our hands we made our way to North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery to find another Cummiskey, Captain Hugh.  Like St Pat's, Cambridge tells a story.  The Cemetery is a heavy mix of old stones next to new.  The mid-nineteenth century Irish names evolve into Italian and then a mix.  Where to begin?  I stopped the car, looked to my right, and there he was.  Providence once again pointed the way.  The grave is that of boat captain Hugh Cummiskey.  He makes quite a name for himself in guiding boats through the harbor and shipping.  Another native of Tyrone, was he a cousin?  Research cannot tell us anymore- yet.  But in this journey surprising things have turned up.

1 comment:

  1. What luck to find those graves so quickly! Hugh must have been there to guide you!