I suppose if I tell you a little about the people I find...whether it was the way they earned their living or the unusual name they were given...then they aren't really forgotten. But it does worry me a bit...some people post photographs of the graveyards where their ancestors are buried...tumbledown places with knee high grass to wade through and headstones all leaning over with virtually indeciperable writing...and I wonder why we don't take more care of those who have gone before us.

They are just bones and dust now of course...and their souls or spirits have long since flown...but I do think it shows a lack respect? I think 'respect' is probably the word needed. You see sometimes while I'm trawling through the old records and one person will have virtually every milestone in their lives carefully recorded in neat copperplate writing in an old book bound with parchment...their baptism and their marriage and then their death and burial. They often have the taxes they paid also recorded and their apprentice records and then they appear again when their daughters were married and when their children were baptised. Their names crop up over and over again when they paid their Hearth Tax and their Poll Tax...the Wills they made and all the minutae of their lives. Some of those people were buried inside their village church...in elaborate tombs, with effigies of themselves carved out in marble.

And another third cousin three times removed of the Gt Aunt will have nothing. He appears in a baptistimal record...and then when his burial was recorded some years later. No-one else is looking for him to include him on their family tree...I don't know if he married or had children or where he lived or how he made his living. He was just there for a while and then he died. And I suppose people just like him will lie in a graveyard somewhere with a stone to mark their passing and not a single soul left alive to care enough to cut the grass or to place flowers...

There is a graveyard near us which is on the site of St Attractas hospice...remember a hospice was a place for travellers to stay and have a meal rather than for sick people as the name implies nowadays. Right at the very top of the burial ground...under the surrounding hawthorn hedge and all but hidden from view is the grave of a little boy who died in the 1800's...he was eight years old as far as I can remember. His grave looks as though it has never been tended or cared for...he lies there virtually all alone at the top of a rather creepy and unpleasant place with an opened grave next to him that has all the bones exposed. Isn't is quite so awfully sad that a small child who maybe died from typhus or smallpox is there quite on his own with no-one left to care. That graveyard is one of the most unpleasant places we've ever been...we went to find some of Des's people who are there but we both of us loathed it and couldn't wait to finish finding Des's family graves and get out...it has a horrible atmosphere about it. Heavy and somehow threatening which considering it's history of Saints and so on is decidely odd.

But the little St Patricks graveyard which is so stuffed with ancient graves that you are tripping over stone markers with every step and has many exposed graves...now that is a comforting place to spend an hour or so reading inscriptions and wondering about the peoples lives. I gather up the bones and put them in a heap and then cover them up with stones without a bother on me...it's a friendly, kindly sort of a place which sounds an odd description for a burial ground... the people there are ancient for the most part...and some come from the times of the famines which beset Ireland so you'd think they would be terribly sad and unhappy...but some of the graves have fresh flowers, others have plaster statuettes of Mary and Jesus and others have those little emotive perpetual candles...

There are birds there as well...wrens have nested in the crevices in the stones of the ruins of the church and robins chatter from the hedges...cows peer over the surrounding wall and you want to stay a while and talk to all those people so long dead so they can tell you about the lives they lived and the children they had...

Even though St Patricks burial ground is ancient and the early Christian church is in total ruins and it is down a single track side road and in the middle of the sweeping countryside I never have the feeling that those who are buried there are forgotten. They are of course...their relatives have long since moved away to take the boat to Americay or they live in London and visit the homeplace once every now and then. But those people simply don't feel 'forgotten'...they make me feel as though they are still there with their bare feet and stout aprons and their woollen breeches. I wouldn't be in the slightest bit surprised to see them strolling about arm in arm or selling posies of wild flowers or making good the ancient stone walls.

Isn't is quite so odd that St Attractas just up the road makes me feel slightly sick and certainly extremely uneasy even on a bright sunny day...and yet another burial ground has me sitting on a grave which is sinking into the ground and having a silent chat to the occupier while I stuff finger bones back into the gap from which they came.

I'd intended to write simply about those who are apparently forgotten...but one thought led to another as it does...while we continue to trawl records and wander around ancient burial sites I suppose those people will never be forgotten. If I tell you of a little boy buried in an old hospice ground then maybe you'll think of him and so he won't be forgotten after all. Perhaps when I say I've found a man who left his wife his best cow ...you'll remember that and might tell another...so he isn't actually forgotten is he? Sometimes I find relatives who took to the drink and were buried unmarked in a paupers grave...my Mothers middle brother was one such. But if I put him down in the family tree and tell you about him...then he isn't actually a forgotten person at all.

Could be none of us are ever forgotten...