Temple Hill Burial Ground appeal

Since 1860, Dublin Quakers have been laid to rest in the beautiful cemetery that lies between Blackrock and Monkstown.  Under the shade of ancient trees, the burial places are marked by uniform simple headstones, giving brief details of the life of the deceased.  A great effort goes into maintenance of the grounds so that mourners at the funerals and casual visitors alike can share the sense of peace and tranquility.  From time to time funding is a problem and an appeal was launched in the spring of 2012.  Contributions can be sent to The Office, Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Dublin 16.

The property situated between the villages of Blackrock and Monkstown, was purchased by Dublin Monthly Meeting from the owner Robert Gray in 1859.  A Minute of Sixth Month 1859 reads:  Report is made on behalf of the trustees appointed in 12th month last that the purchase of ground prepared for the new Burial Ground has been effected, and the sum of £1,000 has been paid for same…..

The Burial Ground was opened on the 6th day of Third Month 1860.  The first person to be interred was Hannah Chapman of 3 William Terrace Booterstown who had died on 3rd March 1860.  Sixty-three years later, in January 1923, Monthly Meeting was informed that there had been 959 interments, the Register was full and a new one provided.

Burials of Dublin Quakers had taken place in Cork Street since 1698 but that was rather a long way from the new Meeting House in Monkstown and a proposal was made in 1834 to open a new burial ground on the Friends’ property there.  This scheme was abandoned the following year and no further steps were taken until 1849 when a committee of thirty Friends was set up to find a suitable piece of land.  Four years later they reached an agreement to purchase a plot near Donnybrook – but this fell through at a very late stage.  It took five more years to conclude the search, with the acquisition of the plot between Blackrock and Monkstown.

At the end of 1858 plans were drawn up for the layout of the enclosure of the cemetery and a decision was taken to build a cottage for a caretaker.  In June the following year the need for a small meeting house was noted.  In the same month Friends agreed on the naming of the place as ‘Temple Hill Burial Ground’ and set a fund-raising scheme in motion.  By the end of 1861 the caretaker was in residence and, early in the following year, the meeting house had been built by Gustavus Hudson at a cost of £174 – 15 shillings.  Friends subscribed a total of £1,597 and the greater part of the balance was transferred from ‘Apprenticing funds’.

After the initial problems in finding a suitable piece of land, the matter seems to have proceeded smoothly and the greater part of the Monthly Meeting Minutes comprise annual reports which give details of the numbers of burials, the state of the finances and the appointment of committee members.  From time to time increasing costs led to agreement on increases in the fees.  Troubles were few – an exception was recorded in First Month 1925:

Some trouble has been experienced when opening graves by the finding of large masses of rock near the surface.  These have to be removed before the grave can be dug to a proper depth.  Before the war this was done by blasting, but now it has to be done by boring and splitting which takes more time.  In one case a second grave was opened and in another the funeral had to be postponed for a day.

The state of the caretaker’s cottage deteriorated over the years and a decision to rebuild rather than repair was taken in the 1930s.  The meeting house was enlarged by the addition of the porch in the 1920s.  Records over generations have seen frequent references to the devoted work of the care-takers and individual committee members who have kept Temple Hill in its state of beauty and tranquility.  The 21st century has seen a renewal of effort and continued improvements.

Christopher Moriarty
Friends Historical Library
June 2012