Cillíní or Children’s burial ground.
Since the mid fifties when I was a child and passed the summer month on Achill Island, I was very impressed about the cillin in Dookinella on the top of the cliffs. This was the only one we knew at this time. I remember, new graves there until the end of the fifties, probably the beginning sixties.
I never forgot about it and becoming older I worked on an artistic project about the cilliní on Achill Island and Currane peninsula, including poetry.
The phrase "Children's burial ground" refers to an unconsecrated place used primarily, though not exclusively, for the burial of unbaptised children. Unbaptised babies could not be buried in consecrated ground so they were buried between sunset and sunrise outside the walls of the graveyard or in a disused graveyard, a cillín or a ring fort. The church said that this children could not come into heaven but that the will remain in the Limbo, a special place and that they would never meet their parents again. Local folklore relates that adults, particularly strangers or suicides, were sometimes interred in these burial grounds.
Frequently the locations chosen were abandoned Early Christian church sites or ringforts, but children were also buried in such places as haggards and fields, boundary fences, cross-roads, under lone bushes, in cliff-clefts, on the sea-shore or outside a graveyard wall. Children's burial grounds are frequently located within a pre-existing early ecclesiastical site or ringfort.
Those sites which are not associated with an older monument are usually marked now by little more than an area of uncultivated stony ground, often raised above the general surroundings.
I my painting I want to make visible the unvisible, the things behind it, the unwritten but never forgotten history of this children.
My work is an epitaph for the children of Achill Island and all Ireland
© René Böll, 2009 , 2018