Cillín - Children's Burial Ground

Unbaptized babies, unmarried mothers who died in childbirth, suicide victims and others who were not considered by the Church to be worthy of burial in consecrated ground were burried in Cillíns.  It is also said that sailors, drowned and washed ashore were also buried there because of doubt of their “worthiness”

The Cillin would usually be a disused church, a gable of an old ruin would also have been used, an area close to a cemetery wall or an entrance was also another option, and a ploughed field was sometimes the resting place for a premature infant. But the Cillin was the most used burial place.

It is assumed that people were anxious to bury their loved ones as close as possible to Holy Ground.  Another feature of these sites were their location; a stream or a river marking a boundary was seen as a type of Limbo between two worlds or a 'no man's land'.

Burials were usually secretive where the loved one was buried in the dead of night. Behind every stone in a Cillín, there is a human tragedy, where a family was not able to grieve properly or publically for a lost loved one.

Brendan Graham's beautiful song "Crucán na bPáiste", burial place of the children, refers to a Cillín in Mayo, but it could be one anywhere in Ireland.  On the radio program, Sunday Miscellany, he talked about his song.  The video here is of the Cillín in Baunnanooneeny with the words of Brendan Graham, talking about his haunting song.

Listen to "Crucán na bPáiste" with English subtitles.