What started as a hobby turned into a job and became an obsession.
Now Tralee resident Joe Maher has created a website filled with headstone images from more than 200 County Kerry cemeteries, representing more than 130,000 dearly departed since the 1770s.
“The idea came to me when I started my family tree in 2008 and hit many dead ends,” Maher, no pun intended, writes in the About page of his website, www.kerryburials.com. He started the job in May 2013 and just finished up last month.
“I took more than 50,000 pictures and I did things like clear away ivy and fill in faded lettering with white chalk to make sure I got the right shot,” Maher told the Irish Mirror. “The photographs need to be properly indexed, which could take four or five years and money I don’t have.”
Maher’s photo collection includes the Celtic cross and burial marker of my maternal relatives, the Diggin family of Lahardane townland on Knockanore Hill, just outside Ballybunion. Thirteen members of the family are buried at Kilehenney Cemetery on the Sandhill Road, near the entrance of the Ballybunion Golf Club.
Now Maher is beginning to photograph and index headstones from County Cork. Support his efforts with a donation if you can.