Case studies

in 1969, Helen M. Roe published a paper that outlined the distribution and historical context of a possible 11 cadaver stones in the Republic of Ireland. By her own admission two of these were never formally identified in person and have since either gone missing or were not there to begin with.


It was hoped that an assessment of a smaller data set would help to assist in creating a standardised methodology for data acquisition that could be applied to various incarnations of the cadaver motif. 5 case studies were selected including:

  1. Triskel Christchurch. Cork City, co. Cork
  2. Peter’s Church (Protestant Church), Drogheda, Co. Louth
  3. Brigid’s Church, Drogheda, Co. Louth
  4. Coman’s Church, Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon
  5. Christchurch Cathedral, Co. Waterford

Please note that the cadaver stones are named by site and not for those who commissioned them due to inconsistent recording of information relating to the monuments themselves. In all cases the church where the monument is located is known however the name of the individual being commemorated is not.  Site selection was based primarily on style variations in the execution of the sculpture:

  • High relief
  • Low relief
  • Double and Single Effigies
  • Large Scale and Small Scale Commemorative Monuments

No Ulster models were included in the data set however as none were identified in Roe’s work. Further research on the part of the author failed to produce any further models however this failure is not likely to be an indication of their absence in an Ulster context and simply requires further investigation and collaboration with academics and enthusiasts within the region.

During the course of fieldwork, and due in no small part to the kind contributions of Mary Timony, a number of headstones with cadaver motifs were identified in Co. Sligo (two examples) and Co. Roscommon (1 example). They are not like the typical cadaver monuments in that they are a motif placed on a headstone instead of the cadaver being the central commemorative monument itself. The Roscommon example was therefore included to highlight a smaller scale variation of the form.