Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Meet: Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman, Author of "Over Thy Dead Body"

The sixty sixth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


What sparked your interest in cemeteries?

My interest in cemeteries was first sparked by my dad. When I was thirteen my parents took me back to Ireland for the first time, and I spent a lot of time wandering through old cemeteries across the countryside with my dad. As a young man he had cycled throughout Ireland and was well versed in the history of his homeland. Our mutual interest in cemeteries gave us an odd point of connection.

Do you have a favorite cemetery or headstone and why is it your favorite?

My favourite headstone is that which stands over the grave of my paternal grandmother Anne Magee, her brother Michael, and my great-grandparents Patrick and Mary Magee in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland. This stone is very special to me because it marks the first time I 'met' my grandmother and great-grandparents, and the first time the existence of Michael Magee was confirmed for me. When my family left Ireland the grave was unmarked; years later my dad and his siblings bought the headstone for it, but on our trips home my dad had never been able to locate it. There are over 1 million people buried in Glasnevin, and even though every plot has a corresponding number, finding a specific grave is not always an easy task. Dad died in 2000, and I found the grave in 2008, so I felt as though I had done it for him.

How does your family feel or what do they think about your interest in cemeteries?

My husband thinks it's great; he's even come 'rabbiting' with me. My mom says she thinks it’s weird, but I’ve seen the little twinkle in her eye when I talk about exploring cemeteries with my dad, so I believe she thinks it’s okay, as long as I am always respectful, which I am.

Why did you become a Graveyard Rabbit?

I became a Graveyard Rabbit because it offers me an opportunity to take something, a cemetery or graveyard, that some people might view as a sad or negative space and turn it into something positive, a space in which we can acknowledge both the poignancy and the beauty that we find.

For all would be Rabbits, how about some words of encouragement.

After my recent fall, the first thing I would say is be careful where you're walking. The second is immerse yourself in it. When you go to a cemetery stay for several hours and photograph everything you see. Also, take time to contemplate the lives of those individuals whose stones and markers you photograph. Just like us they were part of a family, wanted joy in their lives, may have suffered hardship, and probably wondered about "the great beyond". Sometimes I think about the family members as they were burying their loved one, how they felt, whether they liked the place where the plot was located, that sort of thing. When I see a grave that’s untended it makes me feel sad, because I imagine that those who used to care for the grave are gone now too.


sam65 said...

hi jennifer my name is susan magee and my grandfather was francis magee the headstone in your picture is that of my great grandparents

HugoB said...

Hi Susan (Sam65)

My grandfather John Francis Magee (JFM) (b 1869 Drogheda, Co Louth) is the brother of the Patrick Magee shown in the photograph of the headstone. If you would like to share information on the Magee's, please let me know via this blog.

Best wishes

Stuart McGee

HugoB said...
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