Returning to Melbourne General Cemetery

Following my visit to the Melbourne General Cemetery just after Christmas, I returned on New Year’s Day when the office was open. When I first visited, I had a copy of the cemetery record for plot 767 which listed four people. When I found the grave, there were five people listed on the tombstone – two people were missing from the record, and two others were missing on the tombstone. I was hoping the staff at the cemetery could help explain the discrepancy. It turned out to be a very worthwhile visit!

The lady in the office was very helpful. She provided me with a detailed map showing the plot numbers and locations (this would have made my first search a lot quicker!). I asked her to look up Charles O’Connell, one of the people listed on the tombstone in grave 767 who was not listed on the record. Much to my excitement, this returned a second O’Connell grave in the same Roman Catholic section of the cemetery!

Armed with a list of people for this new grave, I hurried through the cemetery to find the gravestone. Some of the names were familiar, others were new. It was only a few metres away from the grave I found on my first visit. It’s a white obelisk, about 2 metres tall, with engraved panels on each face of the base.

The O'Connell grave located at Roman Catholic compartment Q, plot 222A
The O’Connell grave located in Roman Catholic Compartment Q, plot 222A

The highlight for me was the information contained in the engraving. The grave was first erected by Daniel O’Connell, in memory of his wife Maria. Daniel and Maria were the first people in this particular line of my family to arrive in Australia. I already knew this from the marriage record of one of their children, however from the inscription on this grave I now know they were from County Clare, and can determine their year of birth from the death dates and their ages. It has also revealed the names of one of their daughters, including her husband.

The three panels around the base of the tombstone
The three panels around the base of the tombstone

There are a number of names in the cemetery record which don’t appear on this grave, and the individual I was originally enquiring about, Charles, is recorded as buried in this location but his name appears on the other tombstone. This isn’t a major concern, and I’m assuming he’s buried with his tombstone. However, these other names will help to direct my next search of the Victorian Birth, Death and Marriage records at my local library. And then I’ll need to start researching County Clare and see if I can track down information about their emigration from Ireland to Australia! Visiting these graves has been much more rewarding than I was expecting, and it’s great to have a physical source for a change rather than relying on electronic resources.

Posted from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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