Huguenot Cemetery

Every time I pass this cemetery, I pause for a moment, I’m not entirely sure why, as there are many remnants of small cemeteries all over the Country. This particular Cemetery dates from 1693 and is located on Merrion Row, close to the Shelbourne Hotel. It is very small and easy to walk past without noticing it, as it is behind railings on a busy street. However, this time, it made me think of how little the world has changed. In 1693 people were struggling with the concept of religious freedom, just as they are today, in 2016.

The people buried in this cemetery are descendants of French Huguenots who fled persecution in France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes which had guaranteed religious freedom. The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France.

James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, who had spent twelve years in exile in France, after the Irish and Royalist forces were defeated by those of Oliver Cromwell, had encouraged the Huguenots to come to Ireland as he thought that they could help stimulate the Irish Economy and introduce new Skills (sound familiar?). The Duke was correct about this, as The Huguenots rapidly formed a thriving community based in the Liberties,in Dublin, as well as elsewhere in Ireland based on their skills in textiles, watchmaking and finance.

Within a short time they had become an integral part of the life of Dublin. To this day we can still see their influence in Dublin. There are place names all over Dublin that you may not realise are Huguenot in origin. Fumbally Lane, it is believed that the origins of the name of the laneway can be found in a French Huguenot family of skinners by the name of Fombella, who leased a lane in the vicinity in the 1720s.

Digges Lane is another place name with a Huguenot History. It has a connection to the La Touche family, influential in the early days of Irish banking history, who established the La Touche Bank and later central to the very foundation of the Bank of Ireland.

D’Olier Street, takes its name from Jeremiah D’Olier who was a Founder Director of the Bank of Ireland and Governor of that Bank from 1799 to 1801, he was also a Dublin City Sheriff in 1788 and 1790. D’Olier served as a Commissioner of Wide Streets, contributing to the laying-out of the city as we know it today.

Dublin would not look the way it does today, if it were not for the Architect James Gandon, grandson of a French Huguenot Refugee. Gandon was responsible for the Four Courts, Custom House, Kings Inns and many other impressive architectural projects around this City.

This little Cemetery represents an awful lot of influence in our Country.



6 Replies to “Huguenot Cemetery”

  1. so funny/strange, i have exactly the same feeling about this place. every time i pass by i have to stand still and look through the fence and think about the huguenots’ ordeal in europe. thanks for sharing and for extra info.

      1. haha …..;0)

        btw. showed it to last visitor, but she wasn’t much impressed. even said she had never heard of huguenots

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