, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 409-428
Date: 24 Jun 2011

Children’s Burial Grounds in Ireland (Cilliní) and Parental Emotions Toward Infant Death

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Abstract

Cilliní—or children’s burial grounds—were the designated resting places for unbaptized infants and other members of Irish society who were considered unsuitable by the Roman Catholic Church for burial in consecrated ground. The sites appear to have proliferated from the seventeenth century onwards in the wake of the Counter-Reformation. While a number of previous studies have attempted to relate their apparently marginal characteristics to the liminality of Limbo, evidence drawn from the archaeological record and oral history accounts suggests that it was only the Roman Catholic Church that considered cilliní, and those interred within, to be marginal. In contrast, the evidence suggests that the families of the dead regarded the cemeteries as important places of burial and treated them in a similar manner to consecrated burial grounds.