Every time I pass this cemetery, I pause for a moment, I’m not entirely sure why, as there are many remnants of small cemeteries all over the Country. This particular Cemetery dates from 1693 and is located on Merrion Row, close to the Shelbourne Hotel. It is very small and easy to walk past without noticing it, as it is behind railings on a busy street. However, this time, it made me think of how little the world has changed. In 1693 people were struggling with the concept of religious freedom, just as they are today, in 2016.
The people buried in this cemetery are descendants of French Huguenots who fled persecution in France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes which had guaranteed religious freedom. The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France.
James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, who had spent twelve years in exile in France, after the Irish and Royalist forces were defeated by those of Oliver Cromwell, had encouraged the Huguenots to come to Ireland as he thought that they could help stimulate the Irish Economy and introduce new Skills (sound familiar?). The Duke was correct about this, as The Huguenots rapidly formed a thriving community based in the Liberties,in Dublin, as well as elsewhere in Ireland based on their skills in textiles, watchmaking and finance.
Within a short time they had become an integral part of the life of Dublin. To this day we can still see their influence in Dublin. There are place names all over Dublin that you may not realise are Huguenot in origin. Fumbally Lane, it is believed that the origins of the name of the laneway can be found in a French Huguenot family of skinners by the name of Fombella, who leased a lane in the vicinity in the 1720s.